British Catholics hold a surprisingly liberal view on gay marriage with 50 per cent claiming to support it compared to just 40 per cent opposing, a new survey suggests.
Meanwhile UK Protestants are strongly in favour of euthanasia, a practice widely condemned by Christian leaders, but both groups still firmly oppose abortion.
The results are revealed in a YouGov poll of British Christians’ attitudes to a variety of moral issues. The firm polled 2,570 “committed” Christians – 863 Catholics and 1,707 Protestants – on the issues. They defined “committed” as “members of the YouGov panel who have both identified as Catholic/Protestant and strongly agreed with the statement that ‘my faith is important to me.'” They did not, however, take into account regular church attendance.
Half of Catholics surveyed said they supported gay marriage, but the result was a lot closer among Protestants, with 47 per cent opposed and 45 per cent in favour.
On the issue of euthanasia, meanwhile, 48 per cent of Catholics were opposed but 42 per cent supported it. However, a clear majority of Protestants were in support by a margin of 59 per cent to 33 per cent.
Opposition to abortion is perhaps the least surprising result, with 69 per cent of Catholics wanting more restrictions on the practice and just 17 per cent wanting no more restrictions. A strong majority (56 per cent) of Protestants also wanted more restrictions, against 27 per cent.
While the results on abortion and euthanasia will please Catholic leaders, especially in the run-up to a parliamentary vote on legalising assisted suicide, the level of support for gay marriage will cause concern for the Church.
It is highly likely, for example. that a large number of Mass-going Catholics voted ‘yes’ in Ireland’s gay marriage referendum, a situation commentators have blamed on poor leadership from the country’s bishops and the low quality of religious teaching over the past few decades.
After the referendum, The Irish Catholic wrote:
“The fact that many Mass-going Catholics voted ‘yes’ (a substantial minority probably) is indeed a reality check for the Church.
“The reality check is that the Church has done almost no catechesis in the area of marriage for years and years. It has done lots of pastoral counselling, but it has not taught on a systematic basis what marriage is and why it is so important to society and why it can only be between a man and a woman by its very nature.”