September 28, 2016

Where the Public Stands on Religious Liberty vs. Nondiscrimination

4. Very few Americans see contraception as morally wrong

While a plurality of Americans say they think having an abortion is morally wrong and a substantial minority say the same about homosexual behavior, very few people – just 4% of all U.S. adults – think contraception is immoral.

Even when it comes to Catholics who attend Mass weekly, just 13% say contraception is morally wrong, while 45% say it is morally acceptable and 42% say it is not a moral issue. (The Roman Catholic Church teaches that use of artificial contraception is sinful.)

When it comes to abortion and homosexuality, certain religious groups and those who attend religious services frequently are especially likely to see these things as morally wrong. For example, large majorities of churchgoing white evangelical Protestants (89%) and Catholics who attend Mass weekly (83%) say abortion is immoral. A similar share of churchgoing evangelicals (86%) see homosexual behavior as morally wrong, although fewer Mass-attending Catholics (50%) take this position.

Overall, however, while many Americans express moral reservations about abortion, about half express the view that abortion is either morally acceptable (19%) or not a moral issue (34%). The view that abortion is morally acceptable is especially common among religious “nones.”

About six-in-ten U.S. adults say homosexual behavior is either morally acceptable (17%) or not a moral issue (45%); most religious “nones” (62%) say it is not a moral issue.

People who know someone who is gay are much more inclined than those who do not to say that homosexual behavior is morally acceptable (19% vs. 3%). However, even among those who do not know anyone who is gay, those who say homosexual behavior is morally wrong (46%) are outnumbered by those who either say it is morally acceptable (3%) or not a moral issue (50%).