U.S. religious/secular abortion divide is stark

October 1, 2009

Among the areas covered in the just released Pew survey of American public opinion about abortion, one that grabbed my attention asked about factors that influence people’s opinion about the issue.

For those who support abortion rights, only 11 percent cited religious beliefs as the primary influence on their views on the topic; among those who say abortion should be illegal, 53 percent cited faith as their guiding reason. Overall 32 percent of those surveyed cited religious beliefs as the main factor behind their views on abortion.


None of this, mind you, is surprising. Opposition to abortion rights in the United States has been driven primarily by religious conservatives — evangelical and Catholic mostly — and so the figure fits the usual narrative. Few people cite faith as a reason to support abortion rights and so the 11 percent figure in that regard is also what you would expect.

(PHOTO: People gather for the March for Life anti-abortion rally on the National Mall in Washington, January 22, 2009.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst   (UNITED STATES)

But looking at the numbers — 53 percent to 11 percent — does highlight how stark America’s religious/secular divide has become. That’s what jumped out at me.

Among white evangelical Protestants, 58 percent cited religious beliefs as the main influence on their opinions about abortion, a number that climbed to 68 percent for those who attend church on a weekly basis. The only surprise here perhaps was that those figures were not even higher.

The other factors cited were education, personal experience, the views of others and media. A surprising number of overall respondents — 21 percent — chose “something else” as the main influence on their take on this polarizing issue. This also caught my eye.

What do you think would fall under the “something else” category in this context?

One comment

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the “something else” is fact-based logic.

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