Gallup: Churchgoers More Likely to be Pro-Life on Abortion

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 7, 2011   |   10:53AM   |   Washington, DC

A new Gallup analysis of polls it has conducted on abortion from 2008-2011 finds churchgoers are much more likely to be pro-life on abortion than those who never attend or rarely attend religious services.

Regardless of whether the person surveyed by Gallup is a Democrat or Republican, the poll found those who attend weekly religious services are about twice as likely to self-identify as pro-life compared with respondents who say they seldom or never attend church services.

Looking at Republicans, weekly churchgoers say they are pro-life on abortion by an 84-11 percentage point margin. That 73 percent pro-life majority drops to a 66-29 percent pro-life split when Republicans who attend nearly weekly are considered. But, among Republicans who seldom or never attend church, the pro-life majority drops to one percent as those Republicans identify as pro-life versus “pro-choice” on a 47-46 percent split.

Although Democrats in the new Gallup analysis are almost as strongly pro-abortion as Republicans are pro-life, the Gallup survey compilations show Democrats who are weekly churchgoers are actually pro-life — saying so on a slim 48-40 percentage point margin.

Yes, as church attendance levels fall among Democrats, as was the case with GOP voters, so does support for the pro-life position. Those who attend church almost weekly say they are abortion backers by a 60-36 percentage point spread while Democrats who seldom or never attend religious services are massively pro-abortion, saying so 77 percent of the time compared with just 19 percent who say they are pro-life.

The result prompts the question of whether pro-life people are simply more likely to attend church or if the criticism of Christian churches not doing enough to reach churchgoers with the pro-life message is unwarranted. Perhaps those people who attend church services more frequently are more open-minded to the Biblical concepts of protecting human life and respect for God’s creation of humanity, or perhaps their Christian or other religious faith opens them to those teachings and their faith and pro-life beliefs compel them to attend church services.

Either way, pro-life religious groups like Priests for Life or protestant organizations like Lutherans for Life or Presbyterians Pro-Life will continue working to urge their churches to do more to reach out to parishioners and congregations with the pro-life message.

The Gallup results confirm the results of other surveys showing church attendance and a pro-life stance on abortion correlate.

A September 2010 Pew poll showed Americans continue to say their religious beliefs have been highly influential in shaping their views about social issues, including abortion. On the issue of abortion, 26% overall say religion is the most important influence on their opinion, including 45% among abortion opponents. Just 9 percent of those who support legalized abortion say religion affected their conclusion about it.

A September 2008 survey conducted by the National Scientific Survey Center found 78 percent of active Catholics saying abortion is morally wrong along with 66 percent of secular Catholics, who don’t attend church services as often. That poll found 80 percent of active Catholics and 66 percent of secular Catholics saying “human life begins at the moment of conception.”

An August 2008 Pew Poll found voters who are more likely to attend church are more likely to say abortion affects their voting decision. While 64 percent of white Protestants who attend church weekly say abortion affects their vote, just 35 percent who say they rarely attend church say abortion is important. White Catholic voters who attend church regularly come in at 44 percent with just 22 percent of non-active Catholics saying abortion affects their vote.

A December 2006 poll conducted jointly by Le Moyne College and Zogby International found active churchgoing Catholics are more likely to support prohibiting abortions than those who are more nominal and never attend church. Among those who never attend Mass only 30% believe all abortions should be illegal, the survey found that while 60 percent of those who attend mass weekly or more believe all abortions should be illegal.