Blog Post

Younger Catholics Favor Obama, Abortion, Homosexuality

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS Staff Writer A new poll of Americans age 18-34 has found that a large percentage of young Catholics who do not attend Mass weekly are favoring Obama in the upcoming election and think abortion should be legal. Almost half of this group believes same-sex marriage should be allowed. According to a report by the Catholic News Agency (CNA), the poll was conducted by Public Religion Research between Aug. 28 and Sept. 19 of this year and involved 2,000 adults and an additional 1,250 younger adults.   Overall, 44 percent of Catholics said abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, while 54 percent said it should not. About 61 percent of young Catholics reported it was not a very important voting issue, compared to 56 percent of Catholics 35 years and older. As a whole, 30 percent of Catholics agreed that “gay couples should be allowed to marry,” rising to 47 percent when the question is framed by the insistence that “no church or congregation would be required to perform marriages for gay couples.” Only 26 percent of young Catholics said they favored no legal recognition for same-sex couples, compared to 32 percent of those 35 years old and up. About 22 percent of young Catholics considered it a very important voting issue, compared with 27 percent of those 35 and older. Respondents were also asked what they heard talked about in church. Almost all young Catholics (90%) said they heard about hunger and poverty while at church; 78 percent heard about abortion, 58 percent heard about the war in Iraq and another 54 percent heard about the environment. Only 37 percent said they heard about homosexuality. Turning to the presidential election, the poll found that among all voters who attend religious services once or twice a month, support for Obama is at 60 percent. The same group showed 49 percent support for John Kerry in 2004. Catholics aged 35 and older are split between McCain and Obama 46 percent to 44 percent, but Obama leads McCain among younger Catholics 55 to 40 percent. Overall, 49 percent of voters think Obama is friendly towards religion, while only 45 percent say the same of McCain. But how many of these younger Catholics actually attend Mass weekly? The poll found that only 28 percent attended church every week, with the next highest percentage (27%) saying they attended only a few times year and 22 percent saying they attend once or twice a month. Does this signal the coming end of the “culture wars?” Some commentators believe it does. “Younger Americans, including younger Americans of faith, are not the culture war generation,” claimed said Dr. Robert Jones, President of Public Religion Research and lead analyst of the poll. In his view, they are “bridging the divides that entrenched their elders and ushering in an era of consensus in which the common good trumps the clash of ideologies.” Katie Paris, Director of Communications Strategy at Faith in Public Life, agreed. “Expect to see the dividing lines of the culture wars continue to fade,” she said. © All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly/Women of Grace.