Polls of the US faithful find shift to liberalism

22 October 2008

by Ed Beavan

As the US presidential election approaches, the battle for the influ­ential Christian vote continues. A number of surveys of Christian voters suggest that there could be changes to recent voting patterns.

A survey of Christian voters by Public Religion Research suggests that the religious and political polar­isation that has characterised the past two presidential elections has lessened, as younger Christians take a more liberal line on issues such as abortion and same-sex relationships.

The research, which questioned Roman Catholic and Evangelical voters, reports that young RCs (aged between 18 and 35) “are con­siderably more supportive of abor­tion rights and same-sex marriage” than older ones: 60 per cent of younger RCs who were questioned said that abor­tion should be legal, compared with 51 per cent of older ones. Also, 44 per cent of younger RCs polled, com­­pared with just 26 per cent of older ones, believe same-sex couples in com­mitted relation­ships should be allowed to marry.

This generation gap was also under­lined by the report that 25 per cent of the young white Evangelicals who were surveyed backed gay mar­riage, compared with nine per cent of older ones.

Another poll, in which the Hart­ford Institute for Religion Research surveyed 1200 megachurches across the US, suggests that just 33 per cent of leaders from these churches characterise their congre­ga­tions as “predominantly conser­vative”, compared with 51 per cent in 2005.

The Presiding Bishop of the Epis­copal Church in the US, Dr Katha­rine Jefferts Schori, has urged that voters “prayerfully consider the choices before us”, and use the poli­ti­cal process to solve “society’s most intractable prob­lems”. “Voting and political partici­pation are acts of Christian steward­ship,” she said.


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