Tuesday, October 8, 2013

New Poll Finds Two-Thirds of U.S. Catholics Agree with Francis, Six in Ten Approve of Gay Marriage

Another important story in Catholic news right now (in addition to the one from Minnesota about which I have just blogged): as David Gibson notes in this recent Religion News Service article, a survey by Quinnipiac University whose results were released last Friday shows two out of three U.S. Catholics agreeing with Pope Francis that the church has become too focused on issues like homosexuality, abortion and contraception. Gibson also notes,

The survey also found that Catholic support for same-sex marriage continues to be strong, as other surveys have found, with six in 10 Catholics approving of gay marriage and 31 percent opposed. That's slightly above the national 56 percent approval rating. 
But the latest research also indicates that support for same-sex marriage only drops slightly among weekly churchgoers, to 53 percent, with 40 percent opposed. That finding could cause consternation among social conservatives who argue that the most devout Catholics tend to support the hierarchy's position against gay marriage.

As Terry Weldon observes at his Queering the Church blog,  

This research demonstrates conclusively that those Catholics who continue to rant obsessively about these issues, including some US bishops, are not only out of line with Pope Francis’ own thinking and leadership – they are also out of touch with their own people. Those Catholics who continue to actively oppose LGBT equality and inclusion, in marriage and in church, are a vociferous but tiny minority. That should have been obvious for years, to any one willing to look at the evidence – but from the Pope, and from hard research, we now have the evidence to put it beyond doubt. 
This matters. Fully orthodox teaching is that the Church must take due account and regard tor the findings of both natural and social science – and that includes the findings of social surveys, such as the Quinnipiac and similar opinion polls.

Another important finding of the Quinnipiac survey, as David Gibson reports:

Another finding likely to provoke concern among tradition-minded church leaders: Catholics support the idea of ordaining women priests by a 60-30 margin; it only drops to 52-38 percent among those who attend service about once a week. There is almost no gender gap in that support. 

The Catholic right's response to this report? Not Happy. Not Happy in the least. In response to Gibson's article at the National Catholic Reporter website, and in seemingly blithe ignorance that the poll finds church-going Catholics agreeing with Francis about the obsession with abortion, contraception, and gay marriage and supporting the latter, Cestus Dei writes that "CINO's who haven't been to Mass in years" will, of course, want to downplay moral issues. And he goes on to suggest that, since he doesn't like the findings of the poll, said findings must be faulty.

For our old friend Purgatrix Ineptiae, it's all about morality, and how the Catholic right and the right alone holds onto the tried and true moral teachings of the Catholic tradition, as a louche secularized majority sells those tried and true teachings down the river. Purgatrix explicates this point when she defends the decision of Catholic schools to fire gay teachers who come out of the closet, in another discussion thread going on right now at NCR

Here, she employs a deceptive false-equivalency argument that equates openly gay teachers in Catholic schools with heterosexual married ones who commit adultery and then publicize their adultery. What the false-equivalency tactic in this argument seeks to distract us from noticing, of course, is that plenty of heterosexual married teachers in Catholic schools contracept, but those running Catholic schools wouldn't dream of invading the privacy of their bedrooms and nosing into their use of contraceptives--or of firing them because they use contraceptives.

Though the use of contraception contravenes the very same moral prohibitions that those who are gay contravene if they engage in homosexual acts, Catholic pastors almost never lambast the 90%+ of Catholic couples known to use contraceptives, even as they give homilies attacking gay marriage. Catholic schools never fire heterosexual Catholics using contraceptives, and never make any point at all about the use of contraceptives, even as they are now firing openly gay employees in increasing numbers, and claiming that they have an obligation to uphold Catholic moral standards as they do so.

The double standard in this behavior is repulsive. It undermines the claim of Catholic institutions to be interested in promoting the human rights of all persons in the world, and to be interested in building just societies. It undermines the claim of Catholic institutions to be about defending Catholic moral values and not promoting homophobic prejudice and discrimination as they deal with LGBTI human beings.

As I've said before and will say again, if people like Purgatrix Ineptiae represent what Catholicism is all about, I want no part of the Catholic church. From such Catholic mouths, I never hear the word "love" uttered, even as they profess to defend the tradition in all its purity. In such witness to Catholic values, I find no welcome, no acceptance, no place for me and my kind.

And though I celebrate the fact that a majority of my fellow Catholics in the U.S. move in precisely the opposite direction, until those fellow Catholics find some way to place the behavior of their co-religionists like Cestus Dei or Purgatrix Ineptiae or Bill Donohue decisively off-limits, for once and for all, I'll continue to keep my distance. Because it's the only choice left to me, if I want to avoid the kinds of poisons those Catholics and other Catholics like them want to inject into my soul as a gay human being . . . .

(On Bill Donohue and how it's time for him to take his gay-bashing, clerical abuse-excusing self out of the Catholic limelight, see Frank Cocozzelli's latest great essay at Talk to Action. For a Huffington Post discussion of the same Religion News Service article by Lauren Markoe about lay push-back vs. firing of gay teachers in Catholic schools cited above, see here.)

The graphic: a quote often attributed to the great 20th-century Protestant theologian Karl Barth--"Read the bible in one hand and the newspaper in another"--may not be something he said in that precise formulation, but is a summary of his thinking about the need for believers to read the signs of the times as they live their faith in the world.

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