Catholics for gay marriage; Protestants for euthanasia

August 27, 2015, 3:19 PM GMT+0

YouGov Profiles data comparing religious Catholics and Protestants in Britain reveals strikingly different approaches to key moral issues

The Pope is facing a backlash from conservative traditionalists, including senior carnidals and archbishops, over his apparently liberal stance on homosexuality. Although opposing same-sex marriages, he has not done so with the certainty many of the Catholic clergy expect – when asked about gay people in 2013, he famously replied "who am I to judge?".

New analysis of YouGov Profiles data looks at committed Christians in Britain, revealing the differences in attitudes to key issues among the different faith groups. The overall picture that emerges is a Christian population that is more conservative on these issues than the country at large, but perhaps less so than you might expect. British religious Catholics actually tend to support gay marriage (unlike their Protestant counterparts), and religious protestants tend to support some form of euthanasia (unlike their Catholic counterparts).

50% of religious British Catholics are in favour of gay marriage and 40% are opposed, making them more liberal on the issue than committed Protestants. 45% of Anglicans support same-sex marriage and 47% oppose.

The samples are drawn from members of the YouGov panel who have both identified as Catholic/Protestant and strongly agreed with the statement that "my faith is important to me." There are 863 Catholics and 1707 Protestants.

The opposition to same-sex marriage among religious Anglicans is in line with the official position of the Church of England, which opposed the legislation legalising gay marriage last year. The legislation gives other denominations the power to conduct same-sex services, but it remains illegal for the Church of England to carry out such marriages. YouGov research published last year found that 38% of Church of England clergy said same-sex marriage was right, while the majority (51%) said it was wrong.

Both religious Protestants and Catholics in Britain show greater support for the legalisation of voluntary euthanasia than might be expected. A majority of Protestants (59%) are in favour of legalising euthanasia, while Catholics tend slightly to oppose the issue by 48-42%. Both groups are still more conservative than the general public, however, who support assisted dying in some scenarios by an overwhelming majority of 79%.

On the issue of abortion however, both religious Protestants and Catholics are decisively in favour of making restrictions more stringent. 69% of Catholics and 56% of Protestants say they are in favour of tighter restrictions on abortion compared to 29% of the general public.