Sunday, 15 May 2022

SCOTUS Now Represents Only a Small Minority of American Religious Extremists.

Attitude towards abortion by religiosity and political leanings. States set to make abortion illegal in all circumstances will be complying with the opinion of Americans who attend church every week, especially Republicans.
Personal Religiosity and Attitudes Toward Abortion

The evidence from Gallop is that, if SCOTUS as expected overturns the 1973 ruling in Roe v Wade and allows the criminalisation of abortions in all or most cases, they will be empowering states to impose the views of a small minority of religious extremists on the rest of America, as the following charts show.

SCOTUS, whose prime purpose is to uphold the Constitutional constraints on government action, will be explicitly endorsing a flagrant imposition of Conservative Christian dogma by incorporating it into state laws.

On every measure, the opinion that abortions should be illegal in all circumstances - including where pregnancy is the result of rape or incest or the woman is very young, and even when there is severe foetal abnormality such that independent life will be impossible or there is a serious risk to the woman's life - is an opinion not shared by most Americans. It's not even the majority opinion of those Americans who go to church every week.

It's not until we drill down into the statistics further that we find a demographic where more than 50% agree with that extreme opinion - the weekly church-going Republican voters (54%). For all other degrees of religiosity as measured by frequency of church attendance, and political leaning, only a minority take that extreme position. For all Americans, the figure is 40%; 60% do not agree with such an extreme view.

In other words, by overturning Roe v Wade, SCOTUS will be permitting states to foist the opinions of an extremist, puritanical minority onto the rest of the people.

There is considerably more support for a ban on abortions for most reasons but allowing them in some situations. Here we find a strong correlation between religiosity and support for a ban in all or most circumstances where a majority of those who attend church weekly of most weeks are in favour, but only a small minority of those who seldom or never attend church (36%). Of the latter group, only 9.5% would support a total ban in all circumstances.

There is little to choose between Catholics and Protestants on this issue with slightly more Protestants agreeing that abortion is immoral than Catholics (49% and 45%) but a marginally stronger support for a total ban amongst Catholics than Protestants (24% and 23%).

Jews and the religiously non-affiliated ('Nones') have closely similar views on a total ban (6% and 5%) and on the question of the morality of abortion, where abortions are regarded as immoral by only 21% of both Jews and 'Nones'.

There is also a very strong partisan divide on the issue, even allowing for religiosity. Of those Americans who attend church weekly, 54% of Republicans support a total ban, a view shared by only 22% of Democrats. Independents come midway between at 38%. The figures for support for a total ban amongst those who never attend church are 13.5%, 4.5% and 10.5% for Republicans, Democrats and Independents, respectively.

In his report for Gallop, Frank Newport says:

The relationships reviewed above reflect the highly intertwined cluster of attitudes, demographics, and religious and political identity positioning in today's America. Highly religious people tend to be Republican, tend to have a formal religious identity, and tend to live in the South -- and all of these, in turn, are related to an increased probability of belief that abortion should be illegal in all circumstances. This makes it difficult to argue that one of these factors causes the other. Abortion attitudes could reflect pre-existing political identity, which in turn is a factor in personal religiosity, or religiosity could lead one to become a Republican and adopt a negative position on abortion.

The data make it clear that religiosity is at least to some degree independent of these other factors. Religion's relationship to abortion attitudes persists after controlling for religious identity, political identity, region, gender, age, and race and ethnicity.

He goes on to say:

…religion has historically been involved with normative prescriptions and proscriptions relating to sexual behavior and marriage, of which abortion can be a part. The Catholic Church and many Protestant denominations have long instructed their members in ways of marriage, family and, in turn, the bearing of children. As one Christian author put it, "Evangelicals share something in common with every other branch of conservative Christianity. They hold to a simple view of sex outside of marriage, rooted in many centuries of historical teaching and what appear to be the plain teachings of the Bible, especially the New Testament -- don't." The vast majority of abortion procedures are undertaken by unmarried women, which ties abortion into religiously-based norms about sexual behavior among unmarried people.

In other words, a ban on abortions, no matter how total, would be an imposition of a sanctimonious religious dogma on Americans, and an attempt to control their sex lives, in complete contravention of the Establishment Clause, which forbids American government at all levels from promoting or endorsing any religion or religious opinions. For this bigoted group, being forced to continue with an unwanted pregnancy is seen as a punishment for ‘sin’.

Of the Jusices on SCOTUS considered conservative, all are Catholics.

Overturning Roe v Wade will take America back to the situation prior to 1973, at a time when religiosity and religious affiliation are both falling ay accelerating rates. As was shown by a recent Gallop survey, church membership has now fallen below 50% for the first time, having been around 72% in 1973 when the ruling in Roe v Wade decriminalised abortion throughout the USA, bringing America into line with most other developed economies.

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