According to data from the Public Religion Research Institute, just about every demographic — religious, political, age, etc. — has either maintained or increased its support for LGBTQ rights… with one key exception.
While 69% of Americans (overall) support anti-discrimination laws protecting LGBTQ people, support from Republicans has dropped from 61% in 2015 to 56% today. One theory here could be that the drop makes sense given how many “traditional” Republicans have abandoned the party after the election of Donald Trump, leaving behind a conservative core of white evangelicals. But that theory falls apart when you consider how the drop is even steeper among young Republicans, who are less driven by religious motivations than older conservatives.
Among Republicans under 30, support for anti-discrimination laws fell from 74% in 2015 to 63% today.
“It was one of the largest and most significant drops that we saw,” [PRRI chief executive Dr. Robert] Jones said.
Understanding this shift would require additional study, he said, but one hypothesis he offered was that the ranks of young Republicans are thinning, with more socially liberal individuals opting to identify as independent. “The Republican Party is becoming more ideologically pure,” he suggested.
Another surprise in the data is how many religious groups also support these anti-discrimination laws. Jehovah’s Witnesses rank dead last when it comes to supporting such laws, and even 53% of them are in favor of the protections.
You can see on that list that the “Unaffiliated” comes in at 78% support while Unitarian/Universalist came in at 90% (though PRRI warns that it was a relatively small sample size). Only 78%, though?! Surely we’re better than that.
I always hate it when researchers lump atheists, agnostics, and religious people who just don’t belong to an organized group under the umbrella term of “Unaffiliated” because we’re not all of a like mind on these matters. So where would atheists rank on this list?
PRRI researcher Dr. Maxine Najle shared with me some specifics that don’t appeared in the full report, and at least there’s a little more relief that comes from looking at those numbers.
Here’s how that support would look in the original graph (because, really, what else am I doing right now?):
Incidentally, the “nothing in particular” group that falls under that “Unaffiliated” term without being non-theistic are dragging us down. Only 74% of them support those anti-discrimination laws. (Because there are so many of them, relative to atheists and agnostics, the overall number is closer to their number than ours.)
Looking at that list, though, you can see that the more fundamentalist, dogmatic religions are least likely to support civil rights for LGBTQ people. It’s those of us who either hold a benign kind of faith or none at all who think people deserve equal protection under the law. When you have a political party overrun with the most fervent theists, it’s no wonder they don’t care about fixing this problem.
(Featured image via Shutterstock)