It's no secret that I believe religion is a toxic element in society - both here in America and across the globe. While some try to point to charity work done by religious bodies to argue that religion is no a source of evil, if one totals up the deaths world wide from religious strife, especially over the centuries, and the hate and division that religion breeds, those "good works" pale in comparison to the carnage. And not surprisingly, the Abrahamic religions seem to lead the way in their toxicity. In the political realm, the GOP's opposition to marriage equality is seeing more Republicans complain that the GOP is too conservative. And Catholic support for gay marriage suggests that the issue is a loser for the GOP, especially among Hispanic Catholics (the Vatican hopefully is paying attention) Commonweal looks at some of the new findings. Here are highlights:
Yesterday Pew Research released the results of a new survey of public attitudes on the place of religion in political life. The major finding, as you may have seen, is that nearly three-quarters of Americans now say the influence of religion is waning. That figure is up more than twenty points--from 51 percent to 71--since 2001, when Pew first began measuring the trend.
Pew's research turned up a bunch of interesting findings related to same-sex marriage. Some of that data may surprise you, as it may prove frustrating to leading opponents of gay marriage.
The new survey shows a slight drop in support for gay marriage: 49 percent of Americans support it--that's down five points from February's survey. That may mean nothing. (Just as the finding that a five-point rise in the percentage of Americans who believe homosexuality is sinful may hold little meaning.) The year-over-year trend in support of gay marriage remains clear.
Less clear, however, is how the GOP will negotiate its positions on gay marriage, given how many self-identified Republicans are unhappy with the way their party handles that issue.
Pew Research asked Republican respondents how well the GOP was representing their own views. When it comes to gay marriage, just 34 percent of Republicans agree that the GOP is doing a good job. Of the 53 percent who think the Republican Party is doing a bad job, nearly one-third say it's because the party is too conservative on the issue. Just 22 percent say it's because the GOP is too liberal.
While most white Evangelicals are unhappy with the GOP's handling of gay marriage--no surprise there--among non-Evangelical Republicans, more say the party is too conservative than say it's too liberal.
Just 44 percent of all Catholics believe "homosexual behavior" is a sin, while 49 percent say it's not. For white Catholics, those numbers are just about reversed, but not for Hispanic Catholics. Fifty-six percent say homosexual behavior is not a sin--just 38 percent say it is.
Fifty-two percent of all Catholics support gay marriage, while 35 percent oppose it. Among whites, just 32 percent oppose gay marriage, while half support it. Hispanic Catholics favor same-sex marriage by 55 percent--29 percent are against it.
[P]erhaps leaders of the anti-gay-marriage movement might consider what this data means for the way the people they're trying to persuade receive their message.