by Jesse Galef –
You love data, right? Of course you do, how silly of me. Everyone loves sifting through survey data. Well, the Public Religion Research Institute released a fascinating survey last week on the political views of Catholic Americans. One finding getting attention is that Catholics are particularly likely to support marriage equality:
Catholics are more supportive of legal recognitions of same-sex relationships than members of any other Christian tradition and Americans overall. Nearly three-quarters of Catholics favor either allowing gay and lesbian people to marry (43%) or allowing them to form civil unions (31%). Only 22% of Catholics say there should be no legal recognition of a gay couple’s relationship.
The numbers are promising, particularly for questions that explicitly describe a civil marriage “like you get at city hall”: support jumps 28 points, from 43% to 71%.
This must mean that the Catholic church is evolving and teaching its followers to be more accepting and supportive, right?
Well, not exactly:
To summarize: The less frequently the person goes to church (or reports to, at least) the more likely they are to support the right of gays to marry.
I suspect there’s a “cultural Catholic” phenomenon playing into the equation. For example, look at another of their findings:
Compared to other religious groups, Catholics are significantly more likely to give their church poor marks for how it is handling the issue of homosexuality. Less than 4-in-10 (39%) Catholics give their own church top marks (a grade of either an A or a B) on its handling of the issue of homosexuality.
People might identify as Catholic even if they don’t believe the dogma or disagree with their church’s stance.
On the surface, I can’t say that the teachings of Catholicism are friendly to gays and lesbians. It seems plausible to me that there are just a lot of people identifying as Catholic who don’t believe those teachings. And the more seriously people take their religion, the less likely they are to support equality.