Chart of the Day: Religion and Gay Marriage

Last week, Pew Research reported on the latest update in their continuing series of surveys on American attitudes to same-sex marriage. The headline finding, that for the first time fewer than half the sample opposed gay marriage was widely reported, as was the finding that support has been growing steadily since polling first began. From the viewpoint of the Churches, a further finding, that support is growing in all denominational sectors, and that opposition among Mainline Protestants has collapsed dramatically, had somewhat less attention.

Nevertheless, it is important to emphasise (as I did last week) that the battle over marriage equality has largely moved on from a struggle between the Christian churches and the rest, to one being waged within the churches. This prepared by the Economist from the Pew data shows the point clearly: Atheists, the unaffiliated and Jews show clear support.   White Catholics and Mainline Protestants are divided, but with pluralities in support, and have shown clear movement towards acceptance in recent years.

Only Blacks and White Evangelicals continue to show strong opposition, but even in these groups there has been some modest growth in support since the previous survey (for 2oo8/9). We can expect that within a few years, even these groups will become more closely divided, given the pronounced support among the youngest people from all religious backgrounds, while on the other side of the divide, there will be more Protestant denominations and local congregations moving to accept same sex marriage, even in church.

Gay marriage: coming (soon?) to a church near you.

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The Economist comments:

THE debate over gay marriage is at the heart of many races in America’s mid-term elections. On Sunday October 10th Carl Paladino, the Republican candidate for governor of New York, said that children should not be “brainwashed” into thinking that homosexuality was acceptable and that he would veto any gay-marriage bill. But that view places him in a minority. For the first time since the Pew Research Centre began conducting polls on the subject in 1995, fewer than half of Americans (48%) are opposed to gay marriage, while 42% are in favour. All religious groups are more accepting than they were in polls taken between 2008 and 2009. The most notable shift has been among white mainstream Protestants and Catholics, 49% of whom are now in favour, and that figure was even higher for those who attend church less than once a week.

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