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Catholics are a lot more liberal than Evangelicals

Obama visits Pope Francis on March 27, 2014
Obama visits Pope Francis on March 27, 2014
Vatican Pool/Getty

There has long been a politically-driven "unholy alliance" between conservative Catholics and conservative Evangelicals, writes the National Catholic ReporterBut new research published this week by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) shows that the two groups might be less politically aligned than is otherwise thought. Participants were asked their thoughts on cultural issues (sexuality, abortion) and economic issues (living wage, taxes). As the results indicate, Catholics might be closer aligned with liberal values than Evangelicals.


Here are a few surprising comparisons from the survey:

  • Two-thirds of Evangelicals oppose same-sex marriage compared with only 37 percent of Catholics.
  • Almost 4 out of 5 Evangelicals think sex between two adults of the same gender is morally wrong, while just under half of Catholics think it's wrong.
  • About twenty percent more Evangelicals than Catholics think abortion should be illegal in all or most cases.
  • More Catholics (78 percent) than Evangelicals (61 percent) support raising the minimum wage to $10/hr
  • Almost twice as many Catholics (62 percent to 34 percent) believe the government should guarantee health care to every citizen — even if it means increasing taxes
The percent gap between Evangelicals and Catholics varied by question. Both groups, however, were most closely aligned in their beliefs about equal opportunity. Less than half of all Catholics (47 percent) and Evangelicals (42 percent) think it's "not really that big a problem if some people have more of a chance in life than others."

Robert P. Jones, CEO of Public Religion Research Institute, has called the findings ironic. Today, he says, "there is more support for official Roman Catholic Church positions among white evangelical Protestants than among Catholics."


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