Religiousness and Homonegativity in Congregations: The Role of Individual, Congregational, and Clergy Characteristics

Document Type


Journal/Book Title/Conference

Psychology of Religion and Spirituality


American Psychological Association

Publication Date



Attitudes toward lesbian women and gay men (ATLG) have a direct impact on the health and experience of these individuals. Understanding how these attitudes are formed and enacted, particularly within religious organizations, may point to ways that stigma may be reduced, and health disparities ameliorated. With a sample of 239 congregants from 14 randomly selected places of worship, we examined the influence of individual, congregational, and clergy-level variables on homonegative attitudes. Using survey data from congregants and clergy and observational data from research assistants’ observations from attending congregations, we used multilevel models to explore the ability of religiousness and affirmativeness at each level to predict homonegativity. Results indicated that congregation- and clergy-level variables explained 35% of the variation in homonegativity with individual-level variables and error explaining the remaining variation. Of the variables assessed, scriptural literalism (as a congregation-level variable), the lack of affirmativeness of clergy’s preaching, and higher frequencies of quoting scripture in services explained the most variation in homonegativity. Overall, relationships between congregation- and clergy-level variables with homonegativity were larger than relationships between individual-level variables and homonegativity. We encourage continued work to examine how congregations and clergy may contribute to the formation and change of ATLG.