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National Scientific Research

Religious Acculturation and the Parent Resource Initiative

The Marin Foundation has completed one national study and is currently undertaking a second.  Our first study, Religious Acculturation within the LGBT Community, was completed over a four year period and ended in August 2010. To date, this nationwide study is the largest study ever done in the LGBTQ community regarding spirituality and religion. It’s also the first of its kind to look at the acculturation levels of those within the LGBTQ community to their own

sexuality or gender identity and how their past religious and/or spiritual experiences and acculturation influences their current social, sexual, gender and religious experiences.

This study was peer reviewed and statistically analyzed by the most highly respected clinical researchers in the field of sexuality, both coming from opposite ends of the spectrum regarding religion and research interests: Dr. J. Michael Bailey (Northwestern University) is an atheist and focuses on sexual genetics and orientation, and Dr. Mark Yarhouse and Dr. Elizabeth Suarez (Regent University) are conservative evangelicals and focus on sexual identity and behavior.

The results from this study will be published in a forthcoming feature-length book (estimated date, 2015) as well as in academic journal articles.

Our second national research study, the Parent Resource Initiative, began in May of 2012.  This study investigates the reactions and responses of Christian parents to their child’s coming out.  The goal is to interview and survey 200 parents about their experiences with their LGBTQ children and to use the information gathered to develop new resources for parents.  For more information on the project, visit our Parent Resources page.

Here is a quick overview of the completed 2010 study and its key terms:

Title:  Religious Acculturation within the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) 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).

LGBT: People who self-identify as lesbian, gay, 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 LGBT, 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 the summer of 2006 The Marin Foundation began to facilitate a four year research study called Religious Acculturation within the LGBT Community. To the researcher’s knowledge, it has since turned into the largest national research study ever done within the LGBT 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 LGBT community, setting the standard for religious research within the LGBT community. (We ended up with 1,713 usable participants).

The goal of the study is to look at the acculturation levels of those within the LGBT 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 LGBT acculturation (Alquijay, 1997; Magana & Carrier, 1991; Seibt et al., 1995); as well as previous research regarding LGBT spirituality and religion (topics include the perceived religious conflicts experienced by the LGBT community with the Church (Clark, Brown & Hochstein, 1990; Grant & Epp, 1999; Schuck & Liddle, 2001), the LGBT 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 LGBT community (Ellis & Wagemann, 1993; Lease & Shulman, 2003), and the broader attitudes of the straight, conservative religious-believing individuals and their thought processes towards the LGBT 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 LGBT 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 LGBT community have on the following variables:

  1. Acculturation of those with a same-sex attraction to the broader LGBT community
  2. Religious acculturation of those within the LGBT community
  3. Spiritual acculturation of those within the LGBT community
  4. Religious background and practices of the LGBT community and their families
  5. Why or why not the LGBT 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.

For more information please email info@themarinfoundation.org.