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Do varying views of the Bible explain U.S., Canada differences?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Could varying beliefs about the Bible be at the heart of differences between Americans and Canadians on such moral issues as abortion and same-sex “marriage”?

New polling released Jan. 4 by the Gallup Organization suggests that could be the case.

Gallup polled approximately 1,000 adults in each country and found that Americans are considerably more conservative in their view of the Bible. Additional polling has found that Canadians are much more liberal on the hot-button social issues of the day — such as abortion and “gay marriage.”

Tom Minnery, vice president of government and public policy at Focus on the Family, says a society’s beliefs about the Bible also impact its beliefs on moral issues.

“I think it’s only common sense that there is a connection,” Minnery told Baptist Press. “In Western society the basis of moral principles is the Bible. As one loses one’s belief in the Bible as the authoritative Word of God, one tends to stray away from moral principles that once were honored.

“… We’ve seen that in Canada on the marriage issue and its embrace of the homosexual agenda.”

Those polled were given three statements to choose from regarding their view of the Bible.

In America, 34 percent agreed with the statement that “the Bible is the actual word of God and is to be taken literally, word for word.” Only 17 percent of Canadians agreed with the statement.

In the second statement, 48 percent of Americans and 51 percent of Canadians agreed that the Bible “is the inspired word of God but not everything in it should be taken literally.”

Combining the two statements, 82 percent of Americans but 68 percent of Canadians believed that the Bible is either the “actual word of God” or the “inspired word of God.”

In the third category, 29 percent of Canadians and 15 percent of Americans said they believed the Bible is “an ancient book of fables, legends, history and moral precepts recorded by man.”

In a separate poll, 81 percent of Americans said they believe in God; only 64 percent of Canadians said they do.

Meanwhile, other polling by Gallup has shown Canadians to be more liberal on moral issues. For instance, 53 percent of Canadians but only 40 percent of Americans say that abortion is “morally acceptable.” On another issue, 60 percent of Canadians but 42 percent of Americans say that homosexual behavior is morally acceptable.

In fact, homosexuality may be where the two countries differ the most. Fifty-four percent of Canadians believe that homosexuality is “something a person is born with.” Only 37 percent of Americans agreed with the statement. In addition, 51 percent of Canadians favor same-sex “marriage” legalization while only 35 percent of Americans do so. Same-sex “marriage” is legal in seven of the 10 Canadian provinces, and the federal government is moving to legalize it nationwide.

On premarital sex, 78 percent of Canadians say it is acceptable, while 60 percent of Americans do so. But on childbirth out of wedlock, there’s a much wider gap — 73 percent of Canadians say it’s acceptable; 49 percent of Americans say it’s OK.

Not surprisingly, the differences between the two groups of citizens also can be seen in church attendance. Twenty-eight percent of Americans but 16 percent of Canadians say they attend church weekly. As for those who seldom or never attend church, the number is 62 percent in Canada but 42 percent in America.

Minnery says that the data should provide a warning to Americans.

“I think Americans should be very concerned because I think we’re on the same path as Canada,” he said. “We have a lot of independent media in this country that’s religious. We have a lot of independent churches, and many of them are conservative, and that’s a blessing — and that’s why we’re not as far along. But we will get there if people are not eternally vigilant to hold onto moral values.”

The polls relating to biblical beliefs were conducted by Gallup in the U.S. Dec. 5-8 among 1,016 adults and in Canada Dec. 6-12 among 1,004 adults.

The remaining data was collected by Gallup in two separate polls. The poll in the U.S. was conducted May 2-4 among 1,000 adults, and in Canada Aug. 30-Sept. 6 among 1,005 adults.

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  • Michael Foust