How Many Gay and Lesbian Christians are there in the U.S.?

How many gay and lesbian are there in the United States?  The 2010 census counted 308 million people living in the U.S.  At the very least, 75% of the U.S. population identifies as Christian (it’s probably closer to 80%), which comes to roughly 231 million people.  Using the most conservative estimate for the percentage of gays and lesbians in the population, which is 3.5 %, that means that there are, at the very least, 8 million gay and lesbian Christians in the United States alone. If the percentage is 4%, then the figure is 10 million.

There are at least 8 million gay and lesbian Christians in the U.S. 

Gay and lesbian Christians are only outnumbered by the Roman Catholic Church (68 million) and the Southern Baptist Convention (16 million).

There are more gay and lesbian Christian than there are members of the United Methodist Church (7.7 million), the Mormon church (6 million), Church of God in Christ (5.5 million), the National Baptist Convention, U.S.A. (5 million), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (4.5 million), the National Baptist Convention of America, Inc., (3.5 million), the Assemblies of God (2.9 million), the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. (2.8 million), or the African Methodist Episcopal Church (2.5 million).  There are another 13 denominations between 2.5 million and 1 million.

That number, 8 million gay and lesbian Christians, could be higher or lower.  Higher depending on sheer population increase, higher if the percentage of gays and lesbians is actually higher.  Lower if we consider the number of gay and lesbian believers who lost their faith as a result of the dismal treatment they received at the hand of anti-homosexual pastors and Christians, lower depending on how many have taken their lives in despair.

Christians Persecuted in the United States

When anti-homosexual Christians support political crusades against homosexuals, they need to be aware that they are targeting people who identify themselves as Christians–at least 8 million people who name the name of Christ.  The Bible tells me that “Jesus is not ashamed to call them his brothers and sisters.” (Hebrews 2:11)

If Jesus is not ashamed to call these folks his brothers and sisters, then neither am I.  I refuse to participate in a campaign against other Christians.  I refuse to stand silently by while oppression and scapegoating occur.

But I don’t show favoritism.  It makes no difference whether a person is a Christian or not.  Oppression and scapegoating are wrong. Period.  The writer of Hebrews wrote, “Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated.”  (Hebrews 10:33)  Hebrews doesn’t specify that the people you stand with only applies to other Christians.   You consider these people your enemies?  Remember that Paul exhorted, “If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink.”

It’s time to stand side by side with those who are publicly exposed to insult and persecution.

All denomination membership figures are from the National Council of Churches;

About Ron Goetz

My first wife used to say, "There's nothing so sacred that Ron won't pick it apart." My desire to be a pastor -- that was a temperamental mismatch. She was so patient. If my birth mother had lived somewhere else, maybe I would've become a cold case detective. But I would have had to be J instead of a P, I think. And that mid-life reevaluation, starting adolescence as a GARB fundamentalist and transitioning to a non-theist, that gave me an unusual skill set.
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15 Responses to How Many Gay and Lesbian Christians are there in the U.S.?

  1. One of my gay friends sent me the link to this blog. My first sight of this blog is the picture of the mass crucifixions. I was so disgusted by the picture, I didn’t read the very good article. I wonder how many other people have moved on because of the violence of the picture? I’m standing with you.


    • Dave says:

      That picture is from Monty Python’s Life of Brian. I recognized it as soon as I saw it. It’s not that bad a picture.


    • Heather says:

      That’s a scene from the Monty Python movie, _The Life of Brian_. It’s a satire/parody. Based on the kid born in the manger next to Christ.


    • Ron Goetz says:

      Chuck, I recently changed my banner pic. For almost a year-and-a-half I had a crucifixion scene that was dark, gothic, and bloody. Just a few days ago I changed it to this “sanitized” version of a mass crucifixion. Mass crucifixions were fairly common in the Roman empire as I’m sure you are aware.

      The end of Jesus’ life was ugly. Most people don’t know that when people were crucified, there was no “modesty towel” around their crotch. Public humiliation was a major element in crucifixion, not to mention the torture and the dying part. I understand your revulsion regarding crucifixion. This banner pic is actually easier on the eyes than the one I had last week.

      Thanks for commenting on it. Someone else commented on the previous version 6 months or a year ago. Even though he liked the content, he said it made him feel awkward about posting links to the site.

      Click the following link for a Youtube clip of this final scene of The Life of Brian. It’s a parody, not of the crucifixion, but of how the church lightens and trivializes both Christianity and the crucifixion. I just viewed it, and the bitter irony brought tears to my eyes–not tears of laughter.


  2. Daniel Swartz says:

    Thanks Ron. Never thought of it that way, but it makes sense. Sadly I’m afraid that many of us are not active in the Church because of past experiences with “Christian in name only”. God bless you for the good work that you do.


    • Ron Goetz says:

      I once left the church, not expecting to return. A year later we moved, but my wife wasn’t actively looking for a new church home, and I could tell she really needed one. So I got us up and looking, and we found another church fairly quickly.

      I know people who can barely force themselves to go to church, and only if they feel they have to. I think it’s pretty common, and not only in the LGBT community.

      I hate cliches, but all I can say right now is that churches are very complicated places filled with troubled, struggling people, and the wounds we manage to inflict on one another make me wonder how anyone survives. Congregational life can be a real blessing at certain moments, for many people, but when push comes to shove, the survival of the organization and its doctrines trump the situation of any individual who falls too far outside the parmeters of people’s experience or belief system.

      God bless you too, Dan.


  3. Sarah says:

    Great, well informed article. And I agree about how hard it is to find a church home from the above comment… one thing I’ve learned is this: you aren’t going to find a church you agree 100% with. But find one you feel fits you the best. We live in Georgia and it is filled with Southern Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Evangelical/non-denominational, etc… there are no progressive church’s here… but we are becoming new members at a United Methodist church in our area. From what we’ve seen, this church is doing amazing things. I’ve heard the past mention a few times about “marriage being between a man and a woman” but have not once heard a condemning message from him. And being in the “bible belt” of the south, it’s hard to find a church that doesn’t support “traditional marriage” as they like to call it. But I think for the most part, I can say we’ve found a church that fits us for the most part. 🙂 The sermon series are very positive and the kid’s program is amazing, as well as the ministries they are doing. I have actually invited a lesbian couple I know to visit, and they are planning to. I pray they feel welcomed just like anyone else and this church continues to meet expectations as far as how they treat people.


    • Ron Goetz says:

      Years ago, when we were looking for a new church home, we visited a non-denominational community church. Several times the pastor said they were “the church of the walking wounded.” The wounding, as I recall, referred to being wounded by people in churches.

      I think our degree of woundedness is related to how easily we can adjust to a new church experience. Literal wounds take time to heal, and if someone brushes up against a fresh wound, it’s gonna hurt.

      When the couple visits, you are their primary connection with your new fellowship. People can often endure quite a bit of nonsense if they have real friends.


  4. Deni says:

    This is all helpful and I believe true, but there is one omission yet: transgender/gender-variant Christians. These figures could probably be extrapolated out to some degree as well. What makes this all especially potent for transgender Christians is that we are targets for an extra-special amount of calumny as people who willfully subvert the will of God for a gendered creation.

    Please don’t forget us in the shuffle because we are a minority even within the LGBT community. I worship with several other trans people every week, some of whom have been intentionally excluded from their original faith homes.


    • Ron Goetz says:

      Thanks for the gracious correction, Deni. The T in LGBT often gets passed over in these discussions. The very lack of statistics on the percentage of transgender folks is itself part of the problem you’re pointing out.

      Do you and your friends meet in a home, like a Bible study fellowship?


  5. aboyandhiscat says:

    Reblogged this on Φml.


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  8. Anonymous says:

    States where white conservative heterosexual christians are no longer the majority, percentages of
    white conservative heterosexual christians in each state.
    Hawaii 20%
    California 25%
    New Mexico 33%
    Nevada 36%
    New York 37%
    Alaska 37%
    Texas 37%
    Maryland 38%
    Arizona 38%
    Washington 42%
    Florida 42%
    Oregon 43%
    New Jersey 43%
    Colorado 44%
    Illinois 46%
    Georgia 46%
    Vermont 47%
    Delaware 48%
    Louisiana 49%


  9. James says:

    Even 7 years later this needs a response.
    Here’s your idea of truth… Count how many people check the box christian in a country where it as descriptive as checking a box labeled “person.
    Really? 10 million? Talk about stacking the deck with pure nonsense to back up your own personal truth.

    The last thing these people need is help from so called advocates whose agenda is justification for *themselves personally. True Christians with God’s Holy Spirit can see right through all of this charade.

    [Comment edited for length]


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