All Religious Affiliations Are Pro-Choice, Except for White Evangelicals

According to a new survey by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), the "millennial" generation does not have a "religious voter" with a firm stance on abortion, although these younger people of faith seem to be more pro-choice than otherwise. According to the executive summary, "with the exception of white evangelical Protestants, majorities of all major religious groups say abortion should be legal in all or most cases." This flies in the face of the widely held notion that religious people are pro-life.

But according to the survey, people also tend to identify with both "pro-choice" and "pro-life" labels, indicating that the binary may be rather useless. This is visible in almost every demographic group. PRRI's research director, Daniel Cox, points out in the news release that many Americans believe that abortion is morally wrong, but that it should also be legal. This view is not compatible with the "pro-choice"/"pro-life" divide.

Interestingly, though, "more than 7 in 10 religious Americans believe it is possible to disagree with the teachings of their religion on the issue of abortion and still be considered a person of good standing in their faith."

And millennials, while they are significantly more likely to support same-sex marriage, seem to have similar views about abortion as their parents. This indicates that the two issues, which have traditionally been seen as coupled, may be, according to Robert P. Jones, the CEO of PRRI, "moving on separate tracks."

This survey, and the report, does much to disentangle the idea that religious voters do exactly what religious authorities (like the Catholic Church) tell them - and that people of faith are overwhelmingly pro-life. As is usually the case, for most religious people, decisions about politics are influenced by their beliefs but also their experiences, upbringings, and communities.

And as Jones points out on the Religion Dispatches blog, the survey decisively shows that "the misnamed 'values voter'...a mythical beast whose voting values consisted primarily of opposition to legal abortion and marriage equality, is in a state of major decline." And especially as we head into a new election cycle, politicians had better take notice.

bron - care2