Catholics Support Gay Marriage; Homosexuality “Not a Moral Issue”

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.)

Support for gay marriage

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.

Marriage Support by Age

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.

Homosexuality and Morality

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.

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5 Responses to “Catholics Support Gay Marriage; Homosexuality “Not a Moral Issue””

  1. William Lindsey Says:

    It’s almost as if, the more some hierarchs use the gay issue (and gay lives and gay human beings) for their political benefit, the more the faithful push back.

    The bishops must be doing something pastorally wrong when the faithfuls’ stance is so at variance with the church’s official teaching. I’ve always thought that this is a point in history at which a pastorally wise church would stop talking so loudly about gay people and gay lives, and start listening:

    1. Because it’s the Christian and pastoral thing to do,
    2. Because the fulminating is not working,
    3. Because there are very strong theological reasons to question the church’s official teaching,
    4. And because, given those reasons, the church’s adamant certainty that it is doing right when it bashes gay people becomes even more immoral than it would be without those strong theological reasons for caution and tentativeness.

    • queeringthechurch Says:

      Absolutely so, Bill. Gay issues of course are not the only ones. This particular survey by Pew leaves me inclined to track down similar surveys on other issues of sexual morality (just for a start). It could be a useful exercise in demonstrating just how out of touch the bishops are.

      As for the “something” that is wrong, this is surely the insistence on compulsory celibacy. For the life of me, I cannot see how a bunch of old men who have renounced all forms of sexual expression can even consider the validity of preaching to the rest of us on what it’s all about. The problem could be at least mitigated if the rest of us, who do have some experience in these matters, should have the courage to speak openly and frankly to our pastors. Unfortunately, most of the time, we do not speak of sex to priests except in the confessional, maintaining the fiction that natural sexual expression is “sinful”.

  2. catholicssuck Says:

    Are we living in a fairy tale? Archbishop Carlson funds homophobia in Maine and beyond… http://catholicssuck.wordpress.com/2009/11/12/archdiocese-donated-to-defeat-maine-gay-marriage/

    • queeringthechurch Says:

      No fairy tale, here John. Malone, Carlson and other bishops are simply delusional. It is not only on gay sexuality that they are out of touch, but on the whole range of sexual ethics. (It is estimated that only about 5% of Catholics accept and apply the sexual teaching in full). This is why we who choose to remain in the church must speak up clearly to voice our dissent, as required by canon law. Remember, the Catholic church includes all of us who identify as such, not just the self-appointed club in the oligarchy.

      May I wish you all the best with your new blog, “Catholics Suck“. It looks like a good start, and I hope it may be a useful store of information, even as I clearly disagree with your opening premise. (See the Catholics suck “about page” to read this.)

  3. Karen Ferguson Says:

    It’s refreshing to see Espana and Argentina capable of separating church and state. I wish the USA would get with it and do the same.
    Thank you for an informative blog. I’ll keep in touch.


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