Poll Finds Progressive Christians Much Less Pro-Life on Abortion Than Evangelicals
by Steven Ertelt
September 15, 2009
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — A new poll conducted by an institute at the University of Akron may be unique in that it is the first ever to evaluate the competing political interests of evangelicals and progressive Christians. But the results — that progressives are much less pro-life on abortion than evangelicals — are hardly shocking.
The Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron, in partnership with Public Religion Research, is behind the comprehensive survey of religious Americans.
Conservative and progressive religious activists have markedly different political priorities as evangelicals overwhelmingly identify abortion as one of the most important political issues while fewer than 10 percent of progressive religious activists say it is among the "most important" political issues.
The survey also found liberal Christians think they have more of an effect on the political culture.
They perceived themselves as having significant influence on the 2008 election compared to other groups, while conservative religious activists perceived themselves as having relatively little influence — perhaps because of the election victory of pro-abortion President Barack Obama after eight years under a pro-life president.
More than 4-in-10 (43%) progressive activists say that progressive religious groups had a great amount of influence while, by a nearly 2-to-1 margin, evangelicals also thought "religious progressive groups" had a greater influence than "religious conservative groups" (25% vs. 13%).
Looking at the conservative Christians, most rejected the notion put forward by liberal Christians that religious people should shift their focus to new issues, such as the environment and poverty rather than focus on social issues, such as abortion.
Asked to rate their response on a scale of 1-7, with seven saying abortion should remain a priority and one a response agreeing with a shift, 49 percent of respondents gave a seven.
Another 14 percent gave a six and eight percent gave a five — for a total of 71 percent of conservative Christians saying abortion should stay a top priority.
When comparing abortion on a list of eight political issues, evangelicals named abortion the most important by a substantial margin. On a scale of 1-5 with one as the most important, 83 percent of those surveyed gave it a 1 and 12 percent gave it a 2. only one percent of those polled said abortion is not important.
All but one of the other issues failed to get as much as 25 percent saying the political issue merits a 1 on the scale.
When asked about their specific opinion on abortion, conservative Christians said it should always be illegal (60) percent or mostly illegal (35 percent) while only two percent said it should be legal in most cases and less than one percent said legal in all cases.
By contrast, for religious liberals, abortion came in last among the political issues with 7 percent saying it is a number one priority and 56 percent giving it one of the bottom two priority rankings.
Some 80 percent of religious liberals said abortions should be legal in all cases (26 percent) or some cases (54 percent) while just 13 percent said abortions should be mostly illegal and only two percent said it should be illegal in all cases.
"Both conservative and progressive religious activists are committed to being
visible and active in the political process," said Dr. John C. Green, Director
of the Bliss Institute. "This fact suggests that the prominent role that religion played in the 2008 election is likely to continue in the future."
The full report, including a description of survey methodology, and the survey top lines are available at https://www.publicreligion.org/research
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