The Role of Religiousness and Beliefs About Sexuality in Well-Being Among Sexual Minority Mormons

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Psychology of Religion and Spirituality






American Psychological Association

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Sexual minorities raised in conservative religions often experience conflict between their sexual and religious identities that affects their well-being. Minority stress theory (Meyer, 2003) and cognitive dissonance theory (Festinger, 1957) offer different explanations for when, why, and how this conflict may affect well-being. Using an intersectional lens (Crenshaw, 1989), we examined how religiousness and beliefs about sexuality relate to well-being among 1,128 lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer (LGBQ) and same-sex attracted (SSA) Mormons and former Mormons recruited from both politically conservative and liberal circles to explore the competing explanations offered by these theories. Supporting cognitive dissonance theory, we found that confused religious views and sporadic church attendance were negatively related to well-being and that individuals with moderate religious viewpoints and either frequent or no church attendance reported more well-being. Feeling resolved about conflicts between religion and sexuality was also positively related to well-being. Supporting minority stress theory, we found that authentic expression of sexuality, openness about experiences of same-sex attraction, and feeling positive about being LGBQ/SSA were positively related to well-being. We did not find a relationship between beliefs about the etiology of same-sex attraction and well-being. These findings further nuance literature guided by minority stress theory that has found a negative association between religiousness and well-being among sexual minorities. We encourage future research to examine cognitive dissonance between religious/sexual identities as a moderating variable when examining the effects of religiousness on well-being among sexual minorities.