American Catholics on the Issues by Religious Attendance

[09.01.2015]

A new PRRI/RNS survey released last week highlights important racial and ethnic divides in the U.S. Catholic population—and new analysis shows that Catholics are divided by religious participation as well.

The survey, in the field August 5-11, 2015, finds that Catholics who report attending religious services regularly express greater opposition to legal abortion and same-sex marriage—consistent with Church teachings—but also demonstrate less support for addressing economic inequality and climate change, issues that Pope Francis has frequently highlighted.

Catholics on issues by attendance

On no issues that we examined are there larger differences between regularly attending Catholics and those who attend less often than the issues of abortion and same-sex marriage. While only about one-third (35 percent) of Catholics who attend religious services weekly say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, 59 percent of Catholics who attend monthly or less say the same.

Similarly, two-thirds (67 percent) of infrequent churchgoers support same-sex marriage, compared to only 48 percent of Catholics who attend at least weekly.

The impact of religious attendance was more muted on the issue of climate change and economic inequality, but still present. While roughly two-thirds (66 percent) of regularly attending Catholics say the U.S. government should do more to address the gap between rich and poor, more than three-quarters (76 percent) of less observant Catholics say the same.

A similar pattern is evident on the issue of climate change. Nearly two-thirds (66 percent) of Catholics who attend religious services at least weekly say the federal government should do more to address climate change, a position embraced by nearly eight in ten (78 percent) Catholics who attend less often.

Notably, there are no statistically significant differences between Catholic regular churchgoers and infrequent churchgoers on the issue of immigration reform: at least six in ten support allowing a way for immigrants currently living in the U.S. illegally to become citizens provided they meet certain requirements.

Read the entire report, “The Francis Effect? U.S. Catholic Attitudes on Pope Francis, the Catholic Church, and American Politics,” here.

Leave a Reply