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Gay marriage, abortion, euthanasia: 3 charts that show what Catholics and Protestants really think about the moral issues dividing Christianity

Published 31/08/2015

Catholics more liberal towards gay marriage than Protestants
Catholics more liberal towards gay marriage than Protestants

Catholics have a more liberal attitude towards gay marriage than Protestants – but are more conservative when it comes to euthanasia and abortion, a survey suggests.

YouGov questioned 863 Catholics and 1,707 Protestants in Great Britain - who strongly agreed with the statement "my faith is important to me" - on the three issues.

The results show that both groups are less accepting on the issues than the public as a whole.

Both same-sex marriage and euthanasia have been widely discussed within sections of the two churches recently.

Pope Francis is widely perceived to be a liberal influence on the Catholic Church – in 2013, when asked if there was 'gay lobby' in the Vatican, he replied: "If someone is gay and is searching for the Lord and has good will, then who am I to judge him?"

Last year meanwhile, the Church of England opposed legislation to legalise gay marriage in the UK.

More Catholics support gay marriage than Protestants

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Source: YouGov Get the data

Same-sex marriage was made legal in the UK in March 2014, with the exception of Northern Ireland.

It remains illegal for the Church of England to carry out same-sex marriages.

Previous YouGov research found 38 per cent of the Church of England clergy said same-sex marriage was right while the majority, 51 per cent, said it was wrong.

Protestants are more likely than Catholics to support euthanasia

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Source: YouGov Get the data

Both groups remain more conservative than the general population on voluntary euthanasia.

The former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey has previously said that it is a “profoundly Christian and moral thing” to allow people to “end their lives with dignity”.

An assisted dying bill is expected to be debated in Parliament on 11 September.

Former Crown Prosecution Service chief Sir Keir Starmer has said it is time for politicians to legalise assisted dying.

Catholics want more restrictions on abortion laws

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Source: YouGov Get the data

Both Protestants and Catholics are more opposed to abortion than the general population.

While abortion is legal in Britain, it is illegal in Northern Ireland, where it remains a contentious issue.

Last month, a United Nations committee said Northern Ireland’s abortion laws were putting women’s lives at risk.

The report concluded by calling upon Northern Ireland’s authorities to amend the country’s laws on abortion “with a view to providing for additional exceptions to the legal ban on abortion, including in cases of rape, incest, and fata foetal abnormality".

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