Bill Donahue, the President of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, has a Ph.D. in sociology. As a trained sociologist, he’s often been critical of past surveys of Catholics, because, as he puts it: “Too often pollsters ask questions designed to elicit a response that dovetails with their own political leanings.”
In an attempt to get a more accurate picture of the opinions and attitudes of Catholics in the United States at the present time, Donahue commissioned McLaughlin and Associates to do a national survey last month, the results of which he called, “mostly promising.” For example, when the 800 participants were asked if their Catholic faith was important to them, nine out of 10 said it was. (Amazingly, 78% of those who rarely or never attend church answered in the affirmative.) When asked if the Catholic Church is “a strong voice for morality in America,” 75% said it is. Almost the same percentage said that the Church should be even more vocal in speaking out on moral issues in the future, while 66% asserted that the Church should not change her teachings because of “public opinion.”
Regarding the issue of abortion, 73% of the respondents personally identified as “pro-life” while 23% (most of whom said their faith is not very important to them) called themselves “pro-choice.” When questioned about the propriety of the government trying to force Catholic doctors to violate their consciences and perform abortion and sex-transition procedures against their will, 72% said the government should not do so. That figure includes 69% of those who rarely or never go to church.
Dr. Donahue’s comments on the results of the survey are a fitting summary of its findings: “Most impressive is the degree to which Catholics admire the constancy of Catholic teachings, even if they may not always agree with everything the Church teaches — they do not want it to cave into public pressure. This needs to be taken to heart by the laity and clergy alike. Most polls would never tap this subject. Overall, the results were promising. They stand in stark contrast to the spin that critics of the Church continue to master.”
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