US Catholics back bishops on religious freedom, but still favor Obama, poll shows
CWN – August 02, 2012
American Catholics generally agree with their bishops regarding the threats to religious freedom, a new Pew Forum poll shows.
However, despite tensions between the US hierarchy and the Obama administration on questions of religious freedom and on social issues, the poll finds that a slim majority of Catholics prefer President Obama’s stand on issues such as abortion and homosexuality. While 51% of those surveyed preferred Obama’s position on social issues, only 34% preferred the Republican candidate, Mitt Romney.
The Pew Forum poll found that American Catholics agree with their bishops, by a 56-36% margin, on the threat to religious freedom. In the overall American population, including both Catholics and non-Catholics, only 41% agree with the Catholic bishops, and 47% disagree.
The survey found 51% of self-identified Catholics favored Obama in the presidential race, and 42% favored Romney. When the sample was restricted to white non-Hispanic voters, however, the results were quite different, with Romney leading Obama by 47-44%.
The Pew survey showed marked differences in opinion between Catholics who attend Mass and regularly and those who do not. Active Catholics were far more likely to support the bishops’ drive to preserve religious freedom, more likely to favor Romney’s stand on social issues, and more likely to plan a vote for Romney.
Among Catholics who support the bishops on the religious-freedom issue, for example, 60% plan a vote for Romney, and only 34% for Obama. Among those who disagree with the bishops on religious freedom, only 19% favor Romney, and an overwhelming 78% back Obama.
Additional sources for this story: Catholics Share Bishops’ Concerns about Religious Liberty (Pew) www.pewforum.org/Politics-and-Elections/Catholics-Share-Bishops-Concerns-about-Religious-Liberty.aspx