Important Research Needs Your Help!

As many of you know, over the last four years The Marin Foundation has been running what has turned in to the largest national scientific research study ever done in the LGBT community regarding spirituality and religion. We have over 2,000 national participants from all 50 States (51 if you include DC), and neither one of those figures has ever been achieved before in a LGBT study on faith. Our study in coming to a conclusion August 1, 2010. We need your help! This is our final push to have people participate!

If you have, or have ever had, a same-sex attraction to any degree (whether or not your consider yourself LGBT or not), please anonymously participate here.

Then, would you please email this post to everyone you know who fits our target audience for this study so they can participate as well. It takes about 5 minutes to complete, and all we are looking for is the dead honest truth.

Whether you are an atheist who hates everything God or religion, or you are a super Christian, Jew, Mormon, Muslim, or you believe in any faith at all (or anywhere in between), we need your experiences.

The results from this study will be published in peer-reviewed mainstream academic journals, as well as it will turn into my second book to be released next year. As for the data analysis, The Marin Foundation is working with two of the most influential reserachers in the country who are not only well known, but they are from different ends of the faith/sexuality spectrum and the two most respected researchers in the field:

Dr. Michael Bailey from Northwestern University (an atheist, his research and his provocative book) and Dr. Mark Yarhouse from Regent University (an evangelical Christian who researches on sexual identity and his books here and here and here).

Here is a quick overview of the study and its key terms:

Title:  Religious Acculturation within the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) Community

Key Definitions:

Acculturation: A cultural modification of an individual, group or population adapting to, or merging with another culture (Berbrier, 2004; Berry, 1990; Flowers et al., 1998; Miranda et al., 2006; Seibt et al., 1995).

GLBT: People who self-identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender.

Same-Sex Attraction:  People who have a sexual attraction to other people of the same sex. This can include people who self-identify as GLBT, people who are sexually celibate, as well as people who self-identify as ex-gay/post-gay and yet still have a same-sex attraction.

Religion/Religious: Organized, denominational religion tied to a church/temple/mosque/etc.

Spiritual: Individual spirituality that is unassociated with a religious denomination/church.

Creator: One Creator that has created all things (e.g. God, Allah).

High Power/Spirit: Individual higher power/spirit not associated with One Creator.


In May 2006 The Marin Foundation (TMF) began to facilitate a four year research study called Religious Acculturation within the GLBT Community. To the researcher’s knowledge, it has since turned into the largest national research study ever done within the GLBT and religious communities. At the study’s projected conclusion on August 1, 2010, TMF is on pace to have achieved their goal of N = 2,000 national participants from the GLBT community, setting the standard for religious research within the GLBT community.

The goal of the study is to look at the acculturation levels of those within the GLBT community to their past, present and future spiritual and religious practices, if any exist; and how the different constructs surrounding sexuality and religion/spirituality are correlated to those practices. While there has been other research done on GLBT acculturation (Alquijay, 1997; Magana & Carrier, 1991; Seibt et al., 1995); as well as previous research regarding GLBT spirituality and religion (topics include the perceived religious conflicts experienced by the GLBT community with the Church (Clark, Brown & Hochstein, 1990; Grant & Epp, 1999; Schuck & Liddle, 2001), the GLBT community’s religious and spiritual commitment through persistence of faith (Sherkat, 2002; Yip, 2002), the role religion plays for straight family members of those in the GLBT community (Ellis & Wagemann, 1993; Lease & Shulman, 2003), and the broader attitudes of the straight, conservative religious-believing individuals and their thought processes towards the GLBT community (Cochran & Beeghley, 1991; Newman, 2002; Taylor, 2000)), TMF’s research is the first of its kind to directly look at levels of spiritual/religious acculturation in the GLBT population surrounding the following variables:

Seven main variables under the umbrella term of acculturation. For the scope of this study, the term acculturation is being defined as the interplay of how experiential cultural modifications within the GLBT community have on the following variables:

1. Acculturation of those with a same-sex attraction to the broader GLBT community

2. Religious acculturation of those within the GLBT community

3. Spiritual acculturation of those within the GLBT community

4. Religious background and practices of the GLBT community and their families

5. Why or why not the GLBT community is currently active in participating in religious functions

6. Social demographics of people with a same-sex attraction (including whether the participant is “out”, for how long, to who, age, ethnicity, orientation, current residing city and birthplace)

7. Self-identified degree of sexual orientation through the Kinsey Sexual    Orientation Scale

Each variable can also be looked at in connection to location, and to each of the other (sub)variables.

You can participate anonymously here! 5 minutes will change culture.

Much love.


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  • Person

    Can you still take this survey if you’re not American?

    • Yes. We have respondents from 13 different countries as well. As with everything else, the more the merrier! 🙂

  • Neo

    A few of the questions I am a bit uncertain about how to answer. Maybe I’m being too picky, but I’d like my answers to be as accurate as possible:

    1.) I am a Christian who doesn’t believe in a “higher power” outside of God, his angels, and falllen angels. I think with the definitions of “spiritual” and “higher power,” the most accurate answers for me with all the “spirituality” questions would be to indicate that I am not at all spiritual. Am I interpreting these questions as intended?

    2.) With regards to learning about any particular religion, I am interested in learning more about my own faith as always, but not exploring it to consider it (since I have already chosen it.) Should I leave 34 blank?

    3.) With the questions about being “out,” I have told my entire immediate family (though none of my extended family thus far) and most (but not all) of my closest friends about my sexuality. I haven’t made it public otherwise. Does this constitute being “out” for each of friends and family? And it’s been a slow process, so it’s hard to answer how long I’ve been “out.”

    4.) I’m assuming the question about “experiences” at the end refers to all sorts of experiences (e.g. including attractions) and not just behavior. Otherwise I don’t know how to answer it, since I’m a virgin.

    • Neo, that is ok, thanks for your questions:

      1. According to our definitions, no, you are not a ‘spiritual’ person, as we define spiritual as more Eastern religions not connected to One God (angels, etc).

      2. Leave it blank if you’re not interested in learning about another religion.

      3. Yes, you’re out. And you can give the number of years since you started to come out originally.

      4. Yes, it includes attractions as well.

      Thanks for asking!! 🙂

  • Jack Harris

    Hi Andrew,

    A question for you : What is the research question connected to this study? Just curious should be an interesting study to read.

  • Jack Harris

    So I read the post again, I guess you do not necessarily have any assumptions you are trying to prove. I guess you are simply looking for patterns within the GLBT community with regards to acculturation.

    • Jack – We aren’t trying to prove or disprove any hypothesis, other than collecting new data on a topic that is way under researched and seeing if there is any correlation between any of the variables. Once we have that, there are obviously, and wide ranging, general secular cultural and conservative evangelical hypothesis that are pervasive within our world today. It will be interesting to compare actual data to the umbrella percetions (that, since from the beginning, have been taken as fact with no data to back it up) from each community.

      • Hi Andrew

        Great you’ve got so many participants, hope you get some interesting findings. Your terminology though has brought out my inner research-nerd though!

        Research (or at least quantitative research, rather than qualitative) starts with a theory from which hypotheses are generates. The research itself then involves collecting data to see whether the hypotheses are disprovable.

        Your work doesn’t fit this – I think you’re doing a valuable survey, from which you’re going to do a data-trawl (tricky to do rigorously, because of the high chance of getting results by chance, esp with several variables).

        Hopefully your research-guys will nod their heads at this…

        • Here’s the thing, when it comes to LGBT research, as you know, there is no such thing as a totally generalizable sample. It’s not like you can open the phone book and call every 10th person. This is not unique to us, as any LGBT research faces this same problem – which we very clearly recognize. So what we have done is duplicate the collection methods from previously published LGBT academic research. We’re in line with that! Also, I wish I could give you some of our preliminary data right now, as that would answer your hypothesis question. We are basing our hypothesis/theory off of, what I quote to Jack, the “general secular cultural and conservative evangelical hypothesis that are pervasive within our world today”. Therefore we will be using pervasive secular and Christian steriotypes as our baseline, of which we will infer our conclusions off of those. Hope that helps. Also, I know this is long but here is how we have collected our data:

          Recruitment strategies were consistent with previous GLBT research (Matteson, 1997; Miller, 2007; Ratti, Bakeman, & Peterson, 2000) through the distribution of flyers, posters and advertisements at GLBT bars, business establishments, equality rights organizations, non-profits and HIV/AIDS clinics throughout the United States.

          TMF also used a purposive sampling method at the following locations: A GLBT equality rights national conference in 2006, the Gay Olympic Games VII in 2006, the Gay Pride Parade in Chicago in 2006 and 2008, the Gay Pride Parade in Grand Rapids, MI in 2007, the Gay Pride Parade in Long Beach and Los Angeles in 2009 as well as at a number of TMF’s OUT Night Events throughout the country’s GLBT neighborhoods from 2006-2010. Each purposive sample had a response rate over 70%.

          The final collection method was through TMF’s website in which the participants could anonymously participate on-line.

          The first means of collection via the GLBT bars, business establishments, equality rights organizations, non-profits and HIV/AIDS clinics had the potential participants’ call or email TMF to make aware their interest in participation. After contact was made, TMF screened respondents to see if they fit the criteria of having at least incidental same-sex sexual experiences (according to the Kinsey Sexual Orientation Scale). If criterion was met, a time and place was scheduled at the respondent’s convenience to participate through individual, pen and paper completion of the survey. The survey takes three to five minutes to complete. Before the participant began the survey, TMF research assistant would take one to two minutes to define the goal of the research study, define the key terminology used in the study, and let the participant know the study is completely anonymous so as to collect the participants’ true thoughts and feelings about their sexuality and religious belief systems without the threat of their personal identity becoming public. After completing the survey, TMF research assistant would provide additional information about TMF and give TMF contact information to the participant so they could follow-up with TMF if there were any additional questions.

          The second means of collection via the purposive sample followed the same procedure.

          The third means of collection via TMF’s website was through a viral, grass-roots movement created as Andrew Marin spoke around the country to various GLBT and Christian groups. TMF also used chain sampling through the GLBT partner members of TMF.

          Through these different methods, to our knowledge, TMF’s study is the first national study to ever acquire GLBT participants from all 50 States (51 when counting Washington DC). At the last count we are close to the 2,000.

  • Br. Michael

    J. Michael Bailey attacks the identities of yet another sexual minority group:

    He claims that the plethysmograph proves bisexual men are “lying”,

    and that most are just gay men after all…. Is it the same Prof. Bailey?

    • I don’t know if it’s the same man, Brother Michael. I didn’t even know what plethysmograph was…had to Google it.

      I haven’t heard about that research from him, but you never know? I do know for a fact that there are quite a few people in this world who don’t like any of the three of us for a whole number of reasons.

  • Jack Harris


    Thanks for the clarification, as I said before I am very interested to see what the survey shows. As one who does a fair amount of GLBT Counseling Research, I am always fascinated to see what other studies say. Looking forward to seeing it! 🙂

    Side Note : My partner and I are off to San Francisco Pride, I will be taking a page from your book and experiencing the weekend through the lense of faith. Since I am part of the bear community, I find these fellas to be more open and more willing to talk about faith. I will let you know what I see, hear and experience. This is my first west coast pride event, so I am really excited to be a part of it. I hope to attend church at Grace Cathedral San Francisco which is a very GLBT friendly Episcopal Congregation. It’s the Cathedral church of the Diocese of North California… And..Well of course there will be dancing and frivolity..throughout the castro district…so i would be lying if I didn’t say that will be fun too!



    • Jack! So exciting. Would you be willing to write a blog post or two about your experiences? I just appriciate you so much, and your heart. And believe me, I’m looking forward to sharing the results as soon as I can. Much love brother!

  • Person

    Is it just me or is the last question on the survey kind of upside down?

    I looked at these choices…
    Predominantly homosexual experiences, only incidentally heterosexual experiences
    Predominantly homosexual experiences, but more than incidentally heterosexual experiences

    I chose the top one of the two and it came out as a 4 on the spectrum. Shouldn’t it be 5? Shouldn’t the bottom of the two be a 4? The top option is closer to totally homosexual than the bottom option, so why did it tell me I chose ‘4’? I think this is an error that needs to be fixed.

    • It is an error. Don’t know how it got switched a few months ago – we think it was a hacker. We have since changed our passwords/etc. But instead of switching it back, we locked in the date of when it got switched and we are keeping track of every online survey from that date forward so when we enter it to be analyzed, we know the correct order and intended answer. Thanks for the heads up though! 🙂

  • Jack Harris

    Hi Andrew,

    Thanks will do. 🙂

  • NickC

    I tried to take your survey but bailed out.

    I used to be strongly identified with religious belief (was editor of a Catholic magazine for some years), but no longer hold any religious beliefs or identify with the idea of being “spiritual.” I felt some of your questions were unclear or negative toward those who don’t buy religion/spirituality.

    An example of an unclear question:
    23. I am happy with religion

    I am not at all happy with religious institutions or with the whole concept of religion, but I am very happy with my own position on religion as a non-believer. Which does this question try to measure?

    An example of a leading or biased question:
    20. I do not feel like I have any hope for my spiritual future

    I do not cling to hopes for a spiritual future that I don’t believe exists, but I don’t experience that as hopelessness, as your quesiton would imply.

    All in all, I feel your survey is biased against those of us who do not believe in religion or spirituality.

    • NickC – The question “I am happy with religion” is the exact opposite of question 9: “I personally hate religion.” Those questions are asked like that on purpose to check the validity of the responses a person gives. Someone could just enter the same number for everything, and that survey would be thrown out.

      As for question 20, that is why you have the option of answering “strongly disagree”, which then means you feel like you have lots of hope for your spiritual future. We just want honest answers from those who do believe and those who don’t believe. That’s the point of research – trying to get as representative of a sample as possible and then state facts, not cultural perceptions. We’re not trying to lead or trick anyone into anything. Thanks for asking.

      • DougT

        I had similar problems to Nick’s, though I didn’t bail on the survey. You may reject my answers as inconsistent, given your statement “The question “I am happy with religion” is the exact opposite of question 9: “I personally hate religion.” ”

        Um, no. Those two statements are not direct opposites. Treating them as such constitutes a false dichotomy. I do not hate religion- however I’m not particularly happy with it either. Full-bodied annoyance and hatred are two entirely different things. My responses on 9 and 23 reflect this.

        Your response to Nick regarding question 20 is similarly unsatisfying. I neither hope nor despair of my spiritual life- I just don’t have one. Saying strongly disagree suggests that I do have hope for my spiritual life. Picking some degree of agreement feels like I am expressing either despair or a feeling of personal failure at not having one. I neither hope nor despair of a spiritual life any more than I hope or despair of my prospects for being able to channel zeta waves in order to communicate with the dead.

  • AdamP

    So from what I earlier in the comments, I should take the question, “20. I do not feel like I have any hope for my spiritual future”, to mean that I don’t have hope for a future in Eastern spirituality? And the same about feeling comfortable with my spiritual life? Maybe it’s just that I’ve heard the term Christian spirituality a lot in Bible study and from other Christians, I just want to make sure I’m not saying I feel hopeless about a part of my Christian beliefs, so thought I’d double check. Thanks for doing this survey – loved your book and the work the Marin Foundation does!


    • Adam – Although the term ‘Christian spirituality’ flies around quite frequently, please stick to the definition in the survey. Thanks for double checking!

  • Laurie

    I just took a look at this survey, and the questions really don’t reconcile very well. “Hate religion” is too general. What type of religion would I hate or not hate? I think the use of the word religion is not a good choice. Most gay people I know don’t use “religion”– they might call themselves spiritual, for example. They might have multiple beliefs.

    It’s too either/or and I think a lot of gay experience is mixed. For example, liberal Jews might not be as up in arms over “religion” as gays who come from right wing religious nut case homes or cult-christianity.

    I think a better question would be to define why gay people would hate something. For example, I hate the religious right, I hate dopey condescention and I hate missionaries going around the world butting into other cultures. I hate the activities of anti-gay religious groups. But you have to have a specific aspect of religion to “hate.”

    None of the questions really helped me describe my spiritual life as a lesbian. They seemed simplistic, and not well written. Who wrote the questions? Is this survey being conducted under academic guidance, or scientific rigor? The very word “religion” seems odd when paired with a gay context, since I assume the survey wants gay participants.

    Is there a control group of similarly situated straight people also being surveyed using the same questions? What university is working on this?

    • Tobias

      I have the same kinds of problems / questions about this as the other commenters. Also I wonder how do you avoid a biased sample, especially if you advertise this study on your blog that is probably mainly frequented by a certain kind of people (people either interested in or hurt by the Christian religion).

      • Tobias – I answered about our collection procedures in response to Rachel above.

        • Tobias

          Ah, ok, sorry, I didn’t see this!
          Well, it sounds as if you put lots of thought into it, which is good! And you also acknowledge that LGBT studies are never completely unbiased. Sorry that I asked for things you already answered!