What would Jesus do?

July 07, 2014, 1:56 PM GMT+0

Across a range of key political issues Americans tend to have more liberal attitudes than they say Jesus would have, and among Christians the 'Catholic Jesus' is slightly more liberal than the 'Protestant Jesus'

The US is widely recognized as being more religious than most other wealthy countries, with over three-quarters of the country identifying as Christian. The percentage of people identifying as 'no religion' may be growing, but religion still plays an important part in the everyday life of most Americans and many of the biggest political battles of the past decades have centered on Christianity and the role it should play in public life.

The latest research from YouGov shows that on social issues in particular Americans tend to have more liberal attitudes than imagine say Jesus would have. 48% of the public supports legal abortion, compared to only 20% who say Jesus would support it, the biggest divide between public opinion and expectations of what Jesus would think. Only on one issue, the death penalty, do the public stake out a more conservative position, with 58% in favor of the death penalty for murderers compared to 34% who say that Jesus would support it. The smallest difference in attitude is on universal healthcare. 56% of Americans support universal healthcare and 55% of Americans say that Jesus would support it too.

Comparing Protestants and Catholics we see that Jesus' imagined position amongst Protestants is more conservative than amongst Catholics. A third of Catholics say that Jesus would support gay marriage, compared to only 20% of Protestants. Most Catholics also say that Jesus would support universal healthcare and stricter gun laws, while in each case less than half of Protestants agree.

Expectations of what Jesus would think differ widely according to political ID. Unsurprisingly, most people tend to say that Jesus would agree with them. 65% of Democrats say that Jesus would support gay marriage, while 77% of Republicans say he would oppose it. On certain issues, however, personal opinions diverge from what people think Jesus would think. 68% of Democrats support legal abortion, but only 29% say that Jesus would. Similarly, 68% of Republicans support the death penalty for murderers, but only 43% say that Jesus would.

Full poll results can be found here.

Image: Getty