In a new study, the liberal protestant Public Religion Research Institute claims erroneously that Catholics are left-wing when it comes to gay marriage, climate change, and even abortion.
The poll helps progressives by commingling the view of Catholics with former Catholics and non-Catholics, and by selecting an more-left–than-average sample of Americans.
The overall poll included 1,331 people, of which 52 percent had a favorable view of President Barack Obama. The latest survey by Gallup, however, shows only 46 percent public approval for Obama.
The poll characterized Catholics’ views by including 346 people who said they were raised Catholic plus 238 people who were raised Catholic but had left the church. But the “former Catholics are more likely than current Catholics to identify as politically liberal (37% vs. 27%, respectively) and as political independents (50% vs. 36%, respectively),” the group admitted in its press release.
This hidden skew created discordant results. For example, 40 percent of the overall sample of Catholics and left-leaning ex-Catholics said they agree with Pope Francis’ view of single-sex marriage — even as 32 percent said they don’t know what the pope’s views are.
Other parts of the poll asked non-Catholics about the policies they prefer that Church advance. For example, 71 percent of Americans say the church should help reduce the gap in wealth between rich and poor.
But Catholics are more likely to favor self-help. “Fewer than half (48%) of Catholics who attend religious services at least once a week say that the Church should focus more on social justice and helping the poor, compared to 36% who say it should focus more on abortion and right to life issues,” the group’ acknowledged.
“Among Catholics who attend less often, more than six in ten (62%) say the Church should focus on helping the poor and social justice issues, while about one-third (31%) say the Church should emphasize abortion and pro-life issues,” the survey said.
Many polls on single-sex marriage have been skewed by ideological agendas. This year, the National Organization of Marriage submitted a briefing that describes how advocates of single-sex marriage have exaggerated public support for legally redefining the role and purpose of marriage.
The hidden skew in the poll should come as no surprise given that the non-profit’s directors are a coterie of left-wing ministers and academics, including several connected to hard-left Huffington Post and People for the American Way.
The poll makes no distinction between practicing and non-practicing Catholics. Practicing Catholics, that is, those who actually go to Mass on a weekly basis, overwhelmingly support Church teaching on things like gay marriage and abortion. Cultural or “generic” Catholics, that is, those who might not have been to Mass in thirty years, tend to oppose Church teaching on these same issues. It is entirely possible the survey did not find a single practicing Catholic.
A quick look at the group’s board of directors shows a decided but not surprising far-left political slant. It is not surprising that the survey results of this group—made up in part by those connected to the far-left People for the American Way—are so eagerly repeated by the mainstream media.
On the board is Rabbi David Saperstein, who is also on the board of People for the American Way, which publishes something called “Right Wing Watch,” regularly vilifying mainstream conservatives. President Obama picked Saperstein as Ambassador-at-Large for religious freedom even though he opposed the Supreme Court’s decision allowing Hobby Lobby not to pay for abortion drugs for its employees. Ashley McGuire of the Catholic Association said his appointment showed “callous disregard for religious liberty.”
Academic David Gushee also serves on the board. Gushee is a public supporter of abortion rights and a recent convert to the campaign for same-sex marriage. He said, “I am truly sorry that it took me so long to come into full solidarity with the Church’s own most oppressed group.” Gushee published a whole book making the biblical and theological case for same-sex marriage.
Board member Richard Cizik used to run government relations for the conservative American Association of Evangelicals but seemed to develop a hankering to hang out with the smart set. He went over to the left on “climate change” and ended up celebrated in Vanity Fair magazine. Everything else seemed to follow, including support for same-sex unions. He took a fellowship with George Soros’s Open Society Institute and has been much honored by the political and media left.
Board member Diana Butler Bass is a doctrinaire progressive who supports gay marriage. She opposes religious freedom for those small business owners who have a religious objection to serving gay weddings. She wanted to force the Catholic Church to accept gay marriage in the District of Columbia.
Reverend Kenneth Samuel is also connected to People for the American Way. He chairs their African-American Ministers Leadership Council and is an outspoken proponent of abortion, including the hugely disproportionate killing of black babies under the current abortion regime. He went after Congressman Trent Franks when he compared abortion to slavery. Samuel also supports gay marriage.
A simple Google search of each of the board members shows that the Public Religion Research Institute is little more than a front group for the Democratic progressivism. It is no wonder they are so loved by the New York Times and no wonder their “research” finds most Americans, and now most Catholics agree with their left-wing views.
Follow Austin Ruse on Twitter @austinruse.