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Roman Catholicism

What U.S. Catholics really believe

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Le Moyne College of Syracuse, N.Y., and Zogby International of Utica, N.Y. surveyed the beliefs of 1,508 Roman Catholics between 2001-OCT-25 and NOV-1. 1 The margin of error is less than 3%

It is important to realize that the poll was taken only six to seven weeks after the SEP-11 terrorist attack. The negative findings towards fundamentalist Christians may have been affected by the negative publicity directed towards extremist, radical fundamentalist Muslims. It also followed comments by a number of Fundamentalist Christians, including James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, who publicly condemned non-Christians.

It is also important to realize that the poll was taken before the clergy sex scandal which surfaced in Boston and has since spread across the U.S.

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Roman Catholics' beliefs about other religions:

Catholics holding a favorable impression of followers of other religions & denominations Percentage
Buddhists 57%
Muslims 56%
Mormons 54%
Hindus 54%
Fundamentalist Christians 46%

Of the subjects polled, 58% felt that "fundamentalist Christians tend to be religious fanatics;" 50% called them "not tolerant of others." 49% and 44% felt this way towards Muslims.

Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission commented: "If they [the pollsters] had asked about Catholic views of evangelical Christians, they would have gotten measurably different results." He said that many people associate "fundamentalist" with the anti-Catholic views of fundamentalist Bob Jones University in South Carolina -- a high-profile news item during the year 2000 Republican presidential primary campaign. Also, Catholic theologians have often spoken specifically against "fundamentalists'" literal view of the Bible compared with the Catholic views on interpreting Scripture.

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Catholic beliefs about their own faith:

Topic Percentage
God can answer all prayers 97%
It is important to stand up and live your Catholic values 96%
Approve of Pope John Paul II's leadership 90%
Catholic identity is personally important 89%
Approve of American Bishops' leadership 85%
Immoral to discriminate against homosexuals 83%
Favored giving the laity more leadership roles 72%
Abortions almost always morally wrong 68%
Would prefer that the church be more democratic 62%
Oppose destruction of human embryos for stem cell research 61%
Artificial birth control is not immoral 61%
Homosexual behavior is morally wrong 61%
Would let priests marry 54%
Would allow women to be ordained 53%
In-vitro fertilization is not immoral 50%
Identified themselves as Democrats 43%
Identified themselves as Republicans 31%
Praying more since SEP-11 terrorist attack ~25%

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  1. Cathy Lynn Grossman, "Poll: Catholics view fundamentalists less favorably," USA Today, at:

Copyright 2001 & 2002 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2001-NOV-20
Latest update: 2002-DEC-12
Author: B.A. Robinson

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