In spite of, or perhaps because of, Roman Catholic church teachings condemning homosexuality, many lay Catholics in the United States be more accepting toward same-sex relationships than the general public, a new survey found.
“The big finding here is that American Catholics are at least 5 points more supportive than the general population across a range of gay and lesbian issues,” said Robert Jones, chief executive of the Public Religion Research Institute, which conducted telephone surveys of 3,000 Americans.
The survey’s conclusions go against the popular conception that Roman Catholics – the largest U.S. religious denomination at some one in four Americans – are conservative on social issues, said Stephen Schneck of The Catholic University of America, who was asked to comment on the survey by the researchers.
“Catholics appear to like civil unions as an alternative to same-sex marriage,” Schneck said, suggesting that while Catholics accept the rights of same-sex couples to be together there may be resistance to couples joined in what many see as a sacred rite.
Overall, the survey found 53 percent of Catholics supported the idea of same-sex marriage, while the general public is evenly divided on the issue. Fifty-six percent of Catholics did not believe sexual relations between two adults of the same gender constituted a sin, compared to 46 percent of the general population.