Pew Poll Finds Catholics Support Notre Dame’s Decision to Invite President Obama
by Steven Ertelt
May 1, 2009
South Bend, IN (LifeNews.com) — A new poll conducted by the Pew Research Center finds a majority of Catholics support the University of Notre Dame’s decision to invite pro-abortion President Barack Obama to give its commencement address and receive an honorary degree.
However, the poll shows a small percentage of Catholic are aware of the controversy surrounding the decision. It also shows Catholics who attend church on a weekly basis are more likely to oppose the decision.
Only about half of Catholics have heard about the controversy and just 19 percent have heard "a lot" about it. That result mirrors the numbers for the general public with 48% saying they have heard of the controversy and 16% have heard a lot about it.
Overall, 50 percent of Catholics support the decision to invite Obama despite his abortion position conflicting with the Catholic Church’s pro-life teachings. Far fewer (28%) say Notre Dame was wrong to have invited Obama and more than one-in-five Catholics (22%) express no opinion on the matter.
Catholics who attend church on a weekly basis are split 45 percent against the decision, 37 percent for it and 18 percent who say they don’t know.
Looking at other faiths, Christian evangelicals oppose the decision on a 39 to 33 percent margin, mainline Protestants support it 43 to 26 percent, and people who are not affiliated with any religion are very supportive.
The absence of a general backlash on the part of Catholics to Notre Dame’s invitation to Obama may not come as a surprise, given that most Catholics voted for Obama in the 2008 election and give him positive marks for his performance in office thus far.
Obama won 54% of the overall Catholic vote in the November presidential election and even churchgoing Catholics only opposed the pro-abortion candidate on a narrow 50-49 percent margin.
The poll also surveyed Catholics on abortion and found that 47 percent of Catholics say abortion should be legal in all or most circumstances while 42 percent say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases.
Churchgoing Catholics opposed legal abortions on a 63-30 percent margin while those Catholics who do not regularly attend church support abortion 61-29 percent.
Evangelicals oppose abortion on a 70-23 percent clip while mainline Protestants back it 54 to 34 percent, and those not affiliated with a religion were most strongly supportive at 71 percent.
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