Once again, research has shown that by a small margin, Catholics “support gay marriage” (Pew Research Centre) – the only one of the major religious groupings identified that does so. (The strongest support for marriage equality comes from the “unaffiliated” sector, with the strongest opposition from white evangelicals.)
There are of course, several caveats to point out. The difference in the levels of support and opposition by Catholics was small, and not statistically significant; the term “gay marriage” was not defined (was the reference to church or civil marriage?); and there is a clear difference in support between weekly churchgoers and the less regula attenders. But Pew Research is highly respected for its work on social and religious attitudes, and these quibbles do not change the main point. Whatever the precise significance of the figures, they clearly do not support the claims of the vociferous right wing to represent the views of Catholics as a whole on gay marriage – nor on homosexuality in general.
Other than differences by religious affiliation, this survey also demonstrated very clearly the stark differences in support by age group. It is obvious from simple demographics that as time goes by, opposition will literally die out, while support will grow.
A further question in this survey asked for views on homosexuality and morality. In all the defined religious groups, those who thougth “homosexuality” was morally wrong greatly outnumbered those who saw it as morally acceptable. But for the Catholics (again by a small margin) and the “unaffiliated”, greater numbers still did not believe it was a moral issue at all.
Here, as on other matters of sexual ethics, the Catholic bishops who pontificate so freely on the supposed “evils” of homosexuality and of same sex marriage, are not reflecting the views of the church as a whole. Instead, they are driving away people in the moderate centre, and particularly young people.
There are two clear lessons here. It is only a matter of time before gay rights and marriage will be clearly supported by a clear majority of Catholics – but the bishops may not be able to say the same.
- Chart of the Day: Religion and Gay Marriage (queeringthechurch.wordpress.com)
- “The Sexual Person”: Bishops, Theologians Clash on Sexual Ethics (opentabernacle.wordpress.com)
- Daniel Maguire on the Wedding of Sexuality and Spirituality (thewildreed.blogspot.com)