Homophobia and Conservative Religion: Toward a More Nuanced Understanding


Link Care Center, 1734 West Shaw Avenue, Fresno, CA 93711. E-mail: christopherrosik@linkcare.org


The failure of homophobia scales to consider the normative assumptions of religious communities may result in findings that are less useful in addressing this problem. In this study, 155 undergraduate students at a Christian university were surveyed, separately assessing attitudes toward celibate versus sexually active homosexual men and women. Results of multiple regression analyses found that participants who emphasized a person-behavior distinction (an accepted tenet of conservative religious ideology) held more negative attitudes toward lesbian women than those who were comparatively more accepting and did not emphasize such a distinction. However, participants who emphasized the person-behavior distinction held more positive attitudes toward gay men than those who were comparatively more rejecting and did not emphasize such a distinction. These relationships were significant even after accounting for variance attributable to general measures of religious commitment. Attempts to reduce homophobia within conservative religious communities may benefit from a more sensitive approach to their belief systems.