Sacred Rites and Civil Rights: Religion's Effect on Attitudes Toward Same-Sex Unions and the Perceived Cause of Homosexuality


  • *Direct correspondence to Andrew Whitehead, Department of Sociology, Baylor University, One Bear Pl., Box 97326, Waco, TX 76798 〈〉. All data and coding information will be shared with those wishing to replicate the study. The author thanks the anonymous reviewers and the editor of SSQ as well as Paul Froese, Kevin Dougherty, Christopher Bader, Wade Rowatt, and Scott Draper for all of their helpful comments on previous drafts.


Objective. Past research reveals how religion and opinions about the cause of homosexuality influence attitudes concerning same-sex unions. No study to date contains a comprehensive collection of religion measures while also accounting for views of the cause of homosexuality. Therefore, this study investigates the extent to which religion predicts certain attribution beliefs as well as attitudes toward same-sex unions while controlling for attribution beliefs.

Method. The Baylor Religion Survey (2007) is used to estimate binary logistic models predicting the effects of religion and attribution beliefs on attitudes toward same-sex unions.

Findings. First, religion is strongly associated with the belief that homosexuals choose their sexual orientation. Second, religion maintains a significant association with attitudes toward same-sex unions despite inclusion of an attribution variable.

Conclusion. Even if a biological explanation for homosexuality is ultimately proven, unfavorable attitudes toward same-sex unions will most likely endure due to religion's persistent effect.