Of course, bigger traditions, including the Southern Baptist Convention and the Roman Catholic Church, continue to condemn homosexuality. That probably explains why, despite similarities between straights and gays on broad religious beliefs, there's still a gulf when it comes to religious behavior. The Barna survey found that 31 percent of straight Americans are likely to attend a church service, read the Bible, and pray during a typical week, compared with just 15 percent of gays. "When you fear that you will be judged or rejected, organized religion can be threatening," says Daniel Karslake, whose 2007 film For the Bible Tells Me So examines the lives of religious gay Americans.
Karslake says that gay Christians like him tend to take their faith especially seriously because they've had to wrestle with it so much. "When you're clearly condemned by Christianity," he says, "it forces you to start questioning and thinking about what you really believe." And yet the Barna survey suggests that most gays and lesbians, like Karslake, end up sticking with those beliefs.