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November 22, 2003

Holy Smokes

The Pew Forum is a goldmine of information on the opinions of Americans. Remember those polls which showed things like half of highschool seniors couldn't identify North America on a globe? Hold on to your hats.

White evangelical Protestants are by far the most likely to believe that Israel was given to the Jews by God and that it fulfills a biblical prophesy of the second coming. Fully seven-in-ten white evangelicals (72%) say Israel was given to the Jews by God, a figure that rises to 77% among those evangelicals with a high degree of religious commitment. Fewer than half as many white Catholics (33%) and mainline Protestants (31%) agree.

My original search was about Gay Marriage, the topic of the week. There's some interesting factiodia there as well. This is much better news for civil libertarians. The opposition is softening up. 189-22GM.gif

The issue of gay marriage recently returned to the public's agenda after the Supreme Court overturned a Texas anti-sodomy law and enunciated what many observers believe is a broad prohibition against government regulation of private sexual behavior. While a majority of the public continues to oppose gay marriage, support has been gradually building over the past few years and the intensity of the opposition has been declining. Overall, 53% say they oppose allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally, while 38% favor the idea. But support is up from 27% in 1996, and strong opposition now stands at 30%, down from 41% in 1996.

There is a growing gap of opinion on this issue along racial and religious lines. Opposition to gay marriage is widespread among white evangelical Protestants and blacks, and opinion within these groups has changed little over the past seven years. White evangelicals remain the most firmly opposed on this issue: 84% opposed it in 1996, 83% do so now. And opposition among African-Americans is also unchanged (65% opposed gay marriage in 1996, 64% today).

By comparison, seculars, white Catholics, white mainline Protestants, and Hispanics have become increasingly open to the idea of legalized gay and lesbian marriage. Opposition to gay marriage among white mainline Protestants dropped from 63% seven years ago to 44% today. White Catholic opposition also dropped 19 points (from 60% to 41%) over this same time period. Even among seculars, who were more supportive of gay marriage than most other groups in 1996, there is less opposition today: 46% opposed gay marriage in 1996, compared with only 30% who do so now. And while most Hispanics (54%) oppose gay marriage, this is somewhat lower than in 1996 (64%)

Posted by mbowen at November 22, 2003 08:18 AM

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Tracked on February 3, 2004 10:28 PM