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Recent changes in U.S. moral
beliefs, from same-sex
marriages to the death penalty:

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The Gallup Organization has been conducting public opinion polls for over eight decades -- since it was founded by George Gallup in 1935. One very useful feature of their polls is that they often ask the same question at regular intervals over a span of many years. This demonstrates the speed with which public beliefs change over time. 1

During 2015-MAY, Frank Newport at Gallup wrote an article showing shifts by adults in the U.S. on some key moral questions. 2,3

Results below are sorted in order of decreasing change in percentage points:

Topic First year measured Initial Acceptance Year 2015 Acceptance Difference in % points
Gay marriage
1996
27%
60%
+33% 4
Gay/lesbian sexual relations
2001
40
63
23
Unmarried women giving birth
2002
45
61
16
Sexual activity by unmarried persons
2001
53
68
15
Divorce
2001
59
71
12
Polygamy
2003
7
16
9
Cloning humans
2001
7
15
8
Physician assisted suicide; MAID
2001
49
56
7
Suicide
2001
13
19
6
Gambling
2003
63
67
4
Having an abortion
2001
42
45
+3
Death penalty
2001
63
60
-3

The most notable feature of these results is that ALL shifts are in a liberal direction whether it is in the form of increased acceptance of gay marriages or the decreasing acceptance of the death penalty.

Acceptance of gay marriages (a.k.a. same-sex marriages) continues to rise. In 2011, it had reached 50%. By 2018, it reached 67% -- more than two out of three U.S. adults. We suspect that major factors in the rapid growth in acceptance on LGBT matters is caused by:

  • The many members of the LGBT community who have risked abuse and have "come out of the closet" by being open about their sexual orientation.

  • A gradual shift of belief among the general population about what causes feelings of same-sex attraction. Years ago, homosexuality was believed to be a choice that youths made during their teen years. That belief implied that homosexuals could change to heterosexuality at any time through counselling, therapy, etc. Exodus International was once the largest group promoting this belief. After operating for more than three decades, they realized that sexual orientation is fixed in adulthood. They closed their group and apologize to the LGBT community for the harm that they had done. Recently, researchers have traced the cause of same-sex attraction to epigenetics: a layer on top of one's DNA that turn various genes on and off. This layer is formed long before a person's birth, and thus is beyond a person's control. A saliva test has been developed that measures this layer and predicts with 83% accuracy which adult males are gay.

During 2018-NOV-16, a Google search for "gay marriage" found 57 million hits; a search for "same-sex marriage" found 46 million hits. We prefer the latter term, because it is more inclusive. It includes persons with a homosexual orientation -- both lesbians and gays -- as well as those with a bisexual orientation.

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We will update this essay as more information is published.

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References:

  1. "Gallup (company)," Wikipedia, as on 2018-OCT-06, at: https://en.wikipedia.org/
  2. Frank Newport, "Americans Continue to Shift Left on Key Moral Issues," Gallup, 2015-MAY-10, at: https://news.gallup.com/
  3. The 2013 data is from Gallup's 2015-MAY-10 Values and Beliefs survey.
  4. Justin McCarthy, "Two in Three Americans Support Same-Sex Marriage," Gallup, 2018-MAY-23, at: https://news.gallup.com/

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Site navigation: Home page > Religious laws > RFRA > here

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Copyright 2018 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2018-NOV-16
Author: B.A. Robinson

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