Gallup, Inc. is reporting on its latest survey of 19 major moral issues of the day which found that levels of approval were as high or higher than in the past on 12 of these issues. Overall, 11 of the 19 are now considered to be morally acceptable by a majority of Americans.
Birth control received its highest ever approval rating of 90 percent and was the only issue that fell into the "highly acceptable" category meaning there is little opposition to it.
In the "largely acceptable" category, which means smaller majorities approve and sizable minorities still disapprove is found: divorce (69 percent); sex between an unmarried man and woman (66 percent); embryonic stem cell research (65 percent); gambling (62 percent); the death penalty (61 percent); buying and wearing clothing made of animal fur (58 percent); having a baby outside of marriage (58 percent); gay or lesbian relations (58 percent); medical testing on animals (57 percent).
On the other hand, in the "highly unacceptable" category, solid majorities of Americans consider seven of the 19 issues to be morally wrong. Extramarital affairs, cloning humans, polygamy, and suicide are all considered to be morally wrong by than 70 percent of Americans. However, the issues of cloning, polygamy and suicide registered levels of approval that were at or near record levels, even though they are still very low.
The "largely unacceptable" category includes cloning animals (34 percent); pornography (33 percent); sex between teenagers (30 percent).
Abortion was the most contentious issue of the 19 tested having neither majority support nor majority disapproval. The next most contentious was doctor-assisted suicide.
"Americans' views on the morality of many of these issues have undergone significant changes over time," Gallup reports.
"For example, acceptance of gay and lesbian relations has swelled from 38 percent in 2002 to majority support since 2010. Fifty-three percent of Americans in 2001 and 2002 said sex between an unmarried man and woman was morally acceptable, but this year it is among the most widely accepted issues, at 66 percent. Similarly, fewer than half of Americans in 2002 considered having a baby outside of wedlock morally acceptable, but in the past two years, acceptance has been at or near 60 percent.
"Additionally, a few widely condemned actions, such as polygamy, have become slightly less taboo. Five percent of Americans viewed polygamy as morally acceptable in 2006, but that is now at 14 percent. The rise could be attributed to polygamist families being the subject of television shows -- with the HBO TV show Big Love one example -- thus removing some of the stigma."
Political party affiliation appears to be an important factor in the acceptance of immorality. For instance, 71 percent of Democrats support same-sex relations but only 39 percent of Republicans share the same sentiment. Seventy-one percent of Democrats favor childbirth outside marriage while only 40 percent of Republicans approve. Democrats are also more approving of pornography (37% vs. 21%), polygamy (19% vs. 6%), embryonic stem cell research (74% vs. 50%) and abortion (59% vs. 28%).
Republicans, on the other hand, see the death penalty much more favorably than Democrats at 73 percent vs. 52 percent, and wearing animal fur (71% vs. 49%).
Independents tended to fall into the middle of the two groups.
It's interesting to note that birth control sits at the top of a list of issues showing an increasing decline in morality.
In his landmark document, Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI expressly warned that the use of artificial contraception would "open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards.”
This latest report is just another confirmation that the dire prophecies he made more than 45 years ago are once again proving true.
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