Not a Surprise: Church Attendance (or lack thereof) Correlates with Position on Abortion

By Dave Andrusko

The Gallup Poll headline was “Republicans More Unified Than Democrats on Abortion”—which is true enough—but the more interesting conclusion is found well down in the story written by Lydia Saad: “Religion a Factor in Abortion Views in Both Parties.”

Although self-identified Republicans are as a whole more pro-life than self-identified Democrats, the role regular church attendance plays is critical in both parties.

“The percentage of Republicans who are pro-life is 38 points higher among those who seldom or never attend church or another place of worship compared with those who attend weekly,” Saad writes. We learn that 84% of weekly attendees are pro-life compared to 46% for those who seldom or never attend church.

It’s a little more complicated with Democrats, although there is almost exactly the same spread (37%) between regular attendees and non-churchgoers. 77% of the latter are pro-choice as contrasted with 40% of regular church goers who say they are pro-choice.

But almost lost in all the numbers is that there is a pro-life preponderance among Democrats who attend church every week: 48% are pro-life to 40% who are pro-choice.

Taking a closer look reveals what you might expect: the abortion sentiments of “in-betweeners” is in-between the two extremes. Among Republicans who attend church “nearly weekly,” 66% are pro-life compared to 29% who identify as pro-choice. For Democrats, 60% of this middle group are pro-choice compared to 36% who are pro-life.

It is not surprising, then, that Saad concludes, “Consistent with the solid ‘pro-life’ stance of rank-and-file Republicans, the emerging Republican presidential field is dominated by anti-abortion candidates and potential candidates, with all of the current top-tier names (at 5% or better in Gallup polling) embracing the pro-life label.”

Doubling back to how “unified” the parties are for a second, two quick points/

First altogether 62% of Democrats say they are pro-choice versus 32% who say they are pro-life. For Republicans it is almost exactly the opposite: 68% are pro-life and 27% pro-choice.

But, second, Democrats differ not just along the lines of church attendance. The percent of pro-life non-Hispanic Blacks is 39%. Likewise, for those 55 and older, 38% are pro-life.

And those earning less than $30,000 tied (with those who attend church weekly) for the position of the most pro-life Democrats: 48% versus 43% who say they are pro-choice.

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