Wednesday, June 21, 2017

No Major Religious Group Supports Denial of Service to Gays and Lesbians

The highly respected Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) has a new survey out Wednesday.

Some of the findings include:
  • Not a single major U.S. religious group where a majority of members support denying service to same-sex couples. Fifty percent of white evangelical Protestants supported such service denial. That's the closest to a majority that they get. 42% of Mormons, 34% of Hispanic Protestants, 25% of black Protestants and 25% of Jehovah's Witnesses believe businesses should be allowed to deny services to same-sex couples.
  • Majorities of all racial and ethnic groups oppose religion-based service denials. White (60%), Hispanic (62%), API (65%), and black Americans (68%) oppose a policy that would allow small businesses to refuse services to gay and lesbian people.
  • It is abundantly obvious that the hate groups have out-sized influence in how we perceive discrimination. A majority of white mainline Protestants (63%) favor same-sex marriage. That is also true for a majority of Catholics (62%) despite the noisy opposition from the Vatican and groups like National Organization for Marriage. Even Orthodox Christians (59%) favor same-sex marriage. At least two-thirds of Hindus (67%), Jews (73%), the religiously unaffiliated (78%), and Buddhists (85%) favor marriage equality.

    Equal numbers of black Protestants favor (45%) and oppose (45%) same-sex marriage. Similarly, Muslims (44% vs. 41%, respectively) and Hispanic Protestants (41% vs. 46%, respectively) are about as likely to support same-sex marriage as oppose it.
  • Some of the contrasts between support for same-sex marriage and support for the right to deny service are interesting. Only 25% of black protestants, for example, support religion-based denial of service. At the same time 45% of black protestants oppose marriage equality.

    The same disparity is seen in Mormons which means that people are capable of discerning just how unfair service denials are regardless of one's personal opinions about same-sex marriage.

    This also suggests that people who do not approve of same-sex marriage are necessarily advocates for overturning Obergefell v. Hodges. Take that Brian S. Brown. That stridency would probably show up in higher percentages of people who are proponents of legalized public accommodation discrimination.
  • There are only three major religious groups among whom a majority oppose same-sex marriage: Jehovah’s Witnesses (53% oppose vs. 25% support), Mormons (55% oppose vs. 37% support), and white evangelical Protestants (61% oppose vs. 31% support). Together, these three religious groups comprise only 19 percent of the general public.
Public opinion contributes to the sense that marriage equality is a settled issue. Hopefully the Court will continue to rule that there are no religious exemptions to otherwise valid laws. That was Scalia's conclusion in the 1990 decision in Employment Division v. Smith.

Yet, the Supreme Court still has open the possibility of hearing  Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Division. They turned down an almost identical case in Elane Photography v. Willock three years ago. Masterpiece has now been distributed for conference 19 times by my count.

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