Approval of Pope Francis Soars, as Marriage Equality Support Grows

October 15, 2013

Pope Francis

Recent polling  indicating American Catholic support for LGBT right echoes previous numbers, reported on here and here by Bondings 2.0. However, Quinnipiac University Polling Institute’s latest numbers on this topic are noteworthy for two developments: reactions to Pope Francis’ major interview and shifts in views based on Mass attendance.

Religion News Service reports that the pope received high marks as 89% of US Catholics reported either favorable or very favorable views on Pope Francis. Those viewing him negatively were in the low single digits.

The poll was conducted in the last week of September, just days after the release of America Magazine‘s groundbreaking interview with the pope. Regarding his condemnation of the Church’s focus on social issues, including marriage equality, 68% of adult Catholics agreed with Pope Francis and only 23% disagreed. These results were mirrored when broken down by age groups and Mass attendance.

Religion News Service also reported that American Catholic support for marriage equality still outpaces support by the general American population:

“The survey also found that Catholic support for same-sex marriage continues to be strong, as other surveys have found, with six-in-10 Catholics approving of gay marriage and 31 percent opposed. That’s slightly above the national 56 percent approval rating.

“But the latest research also indicates that support for same-sex marriage only drops slightly among weekly churchgoers, to 53 percent, with 40 percent opposed. That finding could cause consternation among social conservatives who argue that the most devout Catholics tend to support the hierarchy’s position against gay marriage.”

As preparations begin for next year’s synod on marriage and the family, it will be important for US Catholics to make their support for LGBT people and same-gender couples known to the Vatican.  Writing to Pope Francis would be a good start.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry


Surveys Continue to Show Catholic Support for LGBT Equality

July 28, 2013

polls 1Some recent polls have come up with interesting developments about Catholics and LGBT issues.  The findings are summarized for each poll under the sub-headings below.

Quinnipiac Poll of Virginians on Marriage Equality–Including Catholics

Washington.CBSLocal.com reports that a recent poll from Quinnipiac University found

“Fifty percent of registered Virginia voters support same-sex marriage compared to 43 percent who don’t, with a clear majority of women approving it.”

Among the statistics for sub-groups in the poll were those for Catholics in the state:

“Catholics favored gay marriage 56 percent to 40 percent, while Protestants opposed it 57 percent to 36 percent. Among those who identified themselves as born-again evangelicals, 74 percent opposed it.”

U.S. Catholics Disagree with Vatican on Homosexuality

The above sub-head is starting to sound a little bit like the proverbial “Dog Bites Man” headline because such news is becoming so commonplace.  Yet another poll, this one from the Pew Research Center, shows that U.S. Catholics do not support the Vatican’s opposition to LGBT equality.

CathNewsUSA.com reports:

“While the Catholic Church officially maintains that homosexual relations are sinful, many Catholics in the U.S. have a more accepting view. A recent survey by the Pew Research Center found that more than seven-in-ten U.S. Catholics (71%) say homosexuality should be accepted by society. Just a third (33%) say they believe homosexual behavior is a sin, down from nearly half who said this in 2003. However, fully half (54%) of American Catholics say there is at least some conflict between their personal religious beliefs and homosexuality, with 42% saying there is ‘a lot’ of conflict.”

Are Catholics the Reason for Marriage Equality in New England?

All six New England states have marriage equality laws.  That’s almost half of the 13 states plus the District of Columbia which allow marriage for lesbian and gay couples.  Could the reason be because there are so many Catholics in those states?

The Public Religion Research Institute released a report this year as Rhode Island was enacting marriage equality.  The report notes, among other things, that Catholics, a significant population bloc in those states, also have a strong record of supporting marriage equality:

“New England has a low percentage of groups opposed to same-sex marriage. Only 7% of New Englanders identify as white evangelical Protestants, compared to nearly 1-in-5 (18%) Americans overall. Only 24% of white evangelicals favor same-sex marriage (71% are opposed). Black Protestants, who also oppose same-sex marriage (37% favor, 57% oppose), are also underrepresented in New England compared to the national population (3% vs. 8%). Instead, Catholics (30%), mainline Protestants (22%), and Jews (6%) are overrepresented among New Englanders, and majorities of these groups favor same-sex marriage (57%, 55%, and 81%, respectively). In addition, 1-in-5 (21%) New England residents are religiously unaffiliated, a figure that’s similar to the rest of the country. More than three-quarters (76%) of religiously unaffiliated Americans favor same-sex marriage.”

It looks like Catholics are going to continue to be key figures in marriage equality and other LGBT equality debates for years to come.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


Majorities of US & Canadian Catholics Support Marriage Equality

March 10, 2013

A new Quinnipiac University poll finds American support for marriage equality growing, especially among Catholics, just as Supreme Court oral arguments around the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8 are about to be heard in late March. A separate Canadian survey shows similar results for Catholics in that nation.

Quinnipiac’s survey results indicate that Catholic support is driving the expansion of marriage rights nationwide. 54% of Catholics polled are in support of marriage equality and only 38% in oppose, improved from a 49%-43% split in December 2012. Researcher Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said:

“‘Catholic voters are leading American voters toward support for same-sex marriage…Among all voters, there is almost no gender gap, but a big age gap. Voters 18 to 34 years old support same sex marriage 62 – 30 percent; voters 35 to 54 years old are divided 48 – 45 percent and voters over 55 are opposed 50 – 39 percent.’”

This gap among Catholics mirrors the emerging demographic trends around marriage equality reported on during an analysis of 2012 election exit polling recently released. Three states, Maryland, Washington, and Maine approved marriage equality ballot measures, while Minnesotans defeated a constitutional amendment to define marriage as one man and one woman during the 2012 elections. The Washington Post reports that exit polling showed:

“…resistance to same-sex marriage is shrinking and mainly concentrated among certain segments of the population: older people, white evangelical Christians and non-college-educated whites…

“‘Significant opposition to the freedom to marry is increasingly isolated within narrow demographic groups while a much broader and more diverse majority are ready to let same-sex couples marry,’ wrote Joel Benenson, who led President Obama’s polling operation in 2008 and 2012, and Jan van Lohuizen, who did the same job for former president George W. Bush…

“White evangelical Christians opposed same-sex marriage by nearly 3 to 1. But every non-evangelical group — other white Protestants, white Catholics, Hispanic Catholics, African American non-evangelicals and Jewish voters — expressed support for such unions by double-digit margins.”

Similar polling reveals that Canadian Catholics support marriage equality as well.  The Vancouver Sun reports on a recent University of Lethbridge poll:

“What about homosexuality? The Vatican continues to teach that homosexuality is a sinful ‘disorder.’

“But Canadian Catholics are increasingly accepting. Half approve of ‘same-sex couples marrying.’ An additional one in four Catholics acknowledge they disapprove of homosexual relationships, but “accept” them anyway…

“What of Europe, that other bastion of so-called ‘Western’ values? The rights of women and gays and individual freedom remain paramount throughout most of Europe, including in Italy, Spain and France, where the strong majority continue to say they are Catholic.”

Most interesting in much of the polling for Westernized Catholics is the strong religious identity expressed by those who overwhelmingly support LGBT equality. Previous distinctions on marriage equality between those considered ‘culturally’ Catholic who do not routinely attend Mass and those who attend Mass weekly are disappearing. The Quinnipiac University polling of US Catholics reported 90% of those surveyed consider their Catholic faith either fairly important, or for 57% very important, in their lives.

What do you think? Do an increasing number of Catholics support marriage equality in full harmony with their Catholic faith, not in spite of it, because of a growing understanding that LGBT rights are matters of justice and dignity? Or is it shifting demographics in age and ethnicity of the Church that merely mirror societal trends towards LGBT equality? Perhaps both? Leave your thoughts in the ‘Comments’ section below.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry


Again and Again, Statistics Tell a Positive Story About Catholics

December 11, 2012

statisticsOver the past month, several polls have confirmed what many previous polls have already shown:  the Catholic laity support LGBT equality, including marriage equality.

In the most recent survey, a Quinnipiac poll released last week, Catholics outpace average Americans when it comes to marriage equality.  According to Newsmax.com:

“While same sex unions are approved by 48 percent to 46 percent overall, Catholics give them the thumbs-up by 49 percent to 43 percent, the survey from Quinnipiac University found.

“ ‘It seems pretty clear that attitudes toward same-sex marriage in American society are changing rapidly,’ said Peter Brown, the assistant director of the Connecticut university’s polling institute.

“ ‘While the country remains split on the issue, supporters have come pretty far in the last four years.’ . . .

“The biggest opposition among any group is with white Protestants who oppose it 63 percent to 32 percent.”

A Public Religion Research Institute report confirms that Catholics are ahead of the average American population on marriage equality:

“A slim majority (52%) of Americans favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry, and 44% oppose.

“Among religious groups, majorities of Catholics (59%), white mainline Protestants (56%), and the unaffiliated (77%) favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry.”

A recent survey of Catholics in Illinois, conducted by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University, showed an overwhelming majority support some form of  legal relationship recognition for lesbian/gay couples.  According to LGBTQNation.com:

“. . . 81 percent of Catholics surveyed support either full marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples or the right to a civil union. Specifically, 39.9 percent said they support marriage rights and 40.1 percent said their position is for same-sex couples to have civil unions. Only 15.7 percent said there should be no legal recognition of same-sex relationships.

“. . . the same poll found that 43.6 percent of Illinois residents approve of full marriage equality, 31.8 percent preferred civil unions and 20.2 percent said there should be no legal recognition. In 2010, the same poll reported 33.6 percent of people were in favor of marriage rights.”

The Illinois statistics are significant because that state, which already has a civil unions law, may well take up the discussion of a marriage equality law in 2013.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

 

 

 


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