For as long social conservatives have been a force within the Republican Party, moderates and liberals have insisted that their presence hurts the GOP. There is certainly evidence Americans are becoming more socially liberal on some issues.
In May, a Gallup headline read, “Same-Sex Marriage Support Solidifies Above 50% in U.S.: Support has been 50% or above in three separate readings in last year.” In October, the same firm announced, “For First Time, Americans Favor Legalizing Marijuana: Support surged 10 percentage points in past year, to 58%.” Medical-marijuana initiatives have been widely successful, and now recreational marijuana has become legal in places like Washington and Colorado. More states may soon follow.
A poll conducted in April by the Public Religion Research Institute showed that older Americans and white evangelical Protestants were the two groups most opposed to same-sex marriage and relaxing marijuana laws. But attitudes are changing even among Christians, as a Religion News Service interview with PRRI Research Director Daniel Cox revealed:
“We see these generational differences even among certain religious communities,” said Cox. According to the poll, younger Christians, too, are twice as likely to see marijuana use as morally acceptable compared to older Christians. “It’s forecasting a future where the majority of Christians will likely also favor legalization, although they’ll likely be a little bit behind Americans overall,” Cox said.
Yet if Americans—particularly younger ones, including Christians—are increasingly embracing same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization, public opinion is tacking rightward on the issue that has long inspired conservative culture warriors the most.
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