NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The Massachusetts court issued its ruling on homosexual “marriage” the same day a new poll suggested that opposition to such unions has risen across the nation from 53 percent in July to 59 percent.
The survey released Nov. 18 by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life also finds that most of the increased opposition has come from highly religious Americans as homosexuality is being addressed more and more in pulpits nationwide.
A total of 59 percent of Americans surveyed oppose homosexual “marriage” while only 32 percent are in favor and 9 percent are unsure, the Pew study found. Opposition among evangelical Protestants stands at 80 percent while 13 percent are in favor and 7 percent are not sure. Opinions among mainline Protestants and Catholics are about the same with just over half of each category opposing homosexual “marriage.”
Concerning legal agreements that would grant many of the same rights as marriage, 51 percent of Americans are opposed to civil unions between homosexuals and 41 percent are in favor.
The issue of homosexual “marriage” could present a significant problem for the Democratic candidate in the 2004 presidential election because while 78 percent of voters who favor reelecting President Bush oppose homosexual “marriage,” the Democrats are sharply divided. Of those voters who would like to elect a Democrat, 46 percent are in favor of homosexual “marriage” and 48 are opposed.
The Pew poll found that younger people are more supportive of homosexual “marriage,” though their demographic does not necessarily favor it. Young Americans are divided on the issue, but the study noted that the division stands in stark contrast to people in their 40s and 50s, where twice as many oppose homosexual “marriage” as favor it. And among those in their 60s and 70s, opposition outnumbers support by as much as four to one, the Pew report said.
Another factor in opinion besides religion and age is education. The survey found that Americans with college degrees are divided over the issue of homosexual “marriage,” with 49 percent opposing and 44 percent favoring.
Gender also plays a role as men are 4 to 8 percent more likely to oppose homosexual “marriage” than women.
Most people surveyed cited moral objections as the reasons why they oppose homosexual “marriage.” Twenty-eight percent said it’s morally wrong, a sin or inconsistent with biblical teaching. Seventeen percent said it’s against their religious beliefs, and one in five explained their position in more literal terms such as the definition of marriage involves a man and a woman or that the purpose of marriage is reproduction.
The survey found that 55 percent of those who attend services at least once or twice a month said their clergy talk about issues related to homosexuality, and 41 percent said they discuss laws regarding homosexuals.
Among evangelicals, the most common preaching topics are abortion and prayer in public schools (72 percent each), followed by issues related to homosexuality (66 percent), the situation in Iraq (62 percent), laws regarding homosexuals (55 percent), the Ten Commandments in Alabama (54 percent) and the death penalty and elections (28 percent each).
Nearly 90 percent of highly committed white evangelicals said homosexual behavior is sinful, according to the survey. Overall, 55 percent of Americans believe it’s a sin.
The survey of 1,515 adults was conducted Oct. 15-19 by the Pew Research Center for The People & The Press and the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. The full results are online at www.pewforum.org.