Catholics Ignoring Church On Gay Marriage Poll Shows

by Newscenter Staff, July 13, 2004

Washington – A survey of the concerns of Roman Catholics this political season shows that the vehement opposition by the Church to same-sex marriage will have little effect on how Catholics will vote.

The poll was commissioned by a liberal group within the church, Catholics for a Free Choice.

The View from Mainstream America: The Catholic Voter in Summer 2004 demonstrates that Catholics rank protecting the U.S. from terrorism and resolving the war in Iraq as the top priorities for the next president, with protecting jobs and Social Security and improving health care, Medicare, and public education filling out the next tier of concerns. Protecting the right to choose, promoting human rights, and advancing gay rights were at the bottom of their priorities.

From June 2-11, Washington D.C.-based polling firm Belden Russonello & Stewart surveyed 2,239 Catholics, including 366 Hispanic Catholics.

Of all the issues in the survey, the most important factor in determining how Catholics will vote in November is their confidence in President Bush’s ability to resolve the conflict in Iraq: at the time of the poll, 54 percent had confidence in the president’s ability to resolve the war in Iraq, while 46 percent were not confident.

However, when Bush is compared to Kerry Catholics are equally divided on who they support.

The high priority Catholics place on protecting Social Security and improving Medicare and public education is underscored by the findings that majorities support canceling some of the tax cuts and using the money to protect Social Security and improve Medicare (74 percent) or using the money to improve public education (68 percent).

The findings contrast sharply with the public agenda of the nation’s Catholic bishops, who have by and large concentrated on candidates’positions on gay marriage, abortion, stem cell research, and assisted suicide, yet have remained relatively silent on the issue of the war, the economy, Social Security, and Medicare – traditional areas of concern for Catholics.

By more than two to one (70 percent to 30 percent), Catholics say the views of Catholic bishops are not important to them in deciding for whom to vote. 83 percent believe that politicians have no religious obligation to vote according to a bishop’s recommendation.