Less than 1% of Catholics agree with denominational teaching on sanctity of life issues: report

Less than 1% of American Catholics agree with all three teachings of the Roman Catholic Church on the sanctity of life issues, pointing to the widespread existence of what some call “cafeteria Catholics” in the United States, according to an analysis.

Researcher Ryan Burge, an associate professor of political science at Eastern Illinois University who publishes articles on Substack called “Graphs About Religion,” divided data Thursday on the beliefs of Catholics in the United States, focusing on their views on abortion, capital punishment and euthanasia.

Burge attributed the motivation to do the research to comments made by Cardinal Wilton Gregory of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, who called President Joe Biden a “cafeteria Catholic” during an appearance on CBS' “Face the Nation” on March 31.

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Gregory defined a “cafeteria Catholic” as someone who “chooses what is attractive and rejects what is challenging.” Referring to Biden, Gregory stated, “Like some Catholics, he picks and chooses greatness of the faith to highlight while ignoring or even contradicting other parts.” In other words, a “cafeteria Catholic” picks and chooses which parts of the faith to observe, much like someone choosing food in a cafeteria rather than accepting all the teachings of the faith.

Investigating the phenomenon of “cafeteria Catholics”, Burge discovered that “not only many Catholics disagree with the teachings of the church.”

“[I]In fact, if you look at the data, it's almost everyone,” he wrote.

Using data from the 1988 General Social Survey, he measured the percentage of American Catholics who said they did not support abortion for any reason and also opposed the death penalty and euthanasia at 0.9% in 2022.

The share of American Catholics who agreed with church teaching on all three issues reached a maximum of approximately 7% in 1989 while varying between 2.6% and 6.2% in the years since. The 0.9% of American Catholics whose positions on the three issues matched those of the church in 2022 constituted a historic low.

After noting the Catholic Church teaching that “Direct abortion, that is, abortion intended either as an end or a means, is seriously contrary to the moral law,” Burge presented six graphs documenting the positions of American Catholics on abortion over time based on data found in the General Social. Survey collected between 1972 and 2022.

Three of the six graphs showed that until recently, most American Catholics opposed legal abortion if a woman “doesn't want more children,” “isn't married” or “can't afford more.” However, in all three of those cases, support for legal abortion is around 50%, according to the most recent data.

“From the 1970s to the 1990s, the share of Catholics who would allow abortion [if a woman doesn’t want more kids] was exactly around 40%. Now, about half of Catholics would support an abortion in that circumstance,” Burge stated. “The trend line is mostly the same when Catholics are asked about choosing an abortion in a situation where the woman. is not married. Now, about half of Catholics would support a woman's right to obtain a legal abortion in that case.”

On the other hand, the overwhelming majority of Catholics consistently supported legal abortion in cases where the “health of the mother” is at risk, the baby was conceived as a result of rape and the baby was determined to have a “serious defect.”

The most recent statistics show support for abortions in those cases hovering around 90%, 80% and 75%, respectively. Support for legal abortion in cases where the mother's health was in danger never fell below 80%, while the percentage of Catholics who preferred legal abortion in the other two cases never dipped below 70%.

“[I]If you look at the stated views of consecutive Catholics on abortion, there is clear majority support for elective abortion in almost every circumstance,” Burge wrote. “For example, at least three-quarters of Catholics favor a woman's right to obtain an abortion. if she got pregnant for sexual assault. Almost the same share supports abortion if the child has a serious birth defect.”

Burge shared a statement from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops illustrating the Roman Catholic Church's opposition to the death penalty, highlighting their declaration that “no matter how heinous the crime, if society can protect itself without ending a human life, it should do so.” He presented a graph showing consistent majority support for the death penalty among American Catholics from 1974-2022, ranging from a low of 55% in 2021 to a high of 81% in 1990, with the most recent data measuring Catholic support for the death penalty. at 61%.

Looking at data on American Catholics' support for euthanasia, also known as assisted suicide, Burge found that about 70% of American Catholics supported helping or letting people kill themselves in cases of terminal illness in 2022. This represented a sharp increase from the 36.% who expressed support for euthanasia when the question was first asked in 1977.

The Catholic Church teaches that because “direct euthanasia consists in ending the life of disabled, sick or dying people”, it is “morally unacceptable”.

Burge noted that Catholics are not the only religious demographic that does not adhere to the teachings of their churches. He pointed to a poll conducted by Ligonier Ministries and Lifeway Research that asks specific doctrinal questions.

Among evangelicals who participated in the survey, about a quarter (26%) said they do not believe the Bible is literally true. Meanwhile, more than half (56%) said that “God accepts the worship of all religions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam,” and 43% said that “Jesus was a great teacher, but he was not God.”

Research by the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University's American Worldview Inventory 2024 finds that only 6% of professed Christians in the United States hold a biblical worldview.

“[T]The typical American adult is not a worldview purist but is essentially a worldview plagiarist, combining beliefs and behaviors borrowed from an average of nine recognized worldviews into their personal worldview blend,” the report stated.

Source: www.christianpost.com

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