May 17, 2005


Parties split on nation's morals (Jennifer Harper, 5/16/05, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)

The moral state of the nation is subject to interpretation among political parties, according to a Gallup poll released yesterday.

Overall, 77 percent of Americans think the country's moral values are on the decline -- a figure that has risen 10 points in three years. There is a partisan gap, however. The number stands at 82 percent among Republican respondents and 72 percent among Democrats. [...]

According to the survey, the biggest no-no of all remains the illicit affair: 93 percent of Americans find romantic dalliances between married men and women morally unacceptable.

Support for the death penalty is on the rise and at "its highest point to date," said Joseph Carroll of Gallup. About 70 percent of Americans think the death penalty is morally acceptable. The figure has risen steadily since 2001, when it stood at 63 percent.

The nation's judgment on abortion is in flux. A slim majority of Americans do not support abortion -- with 51 percent calling it morally wrong, 40 percent accepting it and 8 percent saying their opinion "depends on the situation."

Four years ago, 45 percent called abortion wrong, 42 percent accepted it and 11 percent felt the judgment hinged on the situation.

A majority felt "homosexual relations" were unacceptable, with 52 percent of the respondents disapproving.

For all the inane chatter on the Left about theocracy and on the Right about alienating libertarians George W. Bush is barely as morally conservative as the public.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 17, 2005 8:49 PM

--The number stands at 82 percent among Republican respondents and 72 percent among Democrats. [...]---

That's split??

According to the survey, the biggest no-no of all remains the illicit affair: 93 percent of Americans find romantic dalliances between married men and women morally unacceptable.---

Unless your portfolio's riding high.

--The nation's judgment on abortion is in flux. A slim majority of Americans do not support abortion -- with 51 percent calling it morally wrong, 40 percent accepting it and 8 percent saying their opinion "depends on the situation."--

No it's not, the American public has been very consistent over the past 30 years.

Don't like it, won't pay for it, but not going to tell you what to do.

Medtech advances has swung it the antis way.

Posted by: Sandy P. at May 17, 2005 9:37 PM

By Jennifer Harper

The poll found 66 percent accepted divorce.

But the public draws a definitive line elsewhere: 87 percent said human cloning was wrong, and 82 percent could not support suicide.
Doctor-assisted suicide, however, drew a more complicated answer. The poll found that 49 percent felt the practice was morally acceptable.

Six out of 10 deemed the use of stem cells derived from human embryos acceptable.

There must be a lot of people getting divorced who regard it as "immoral" to do so.
33% of those polled feel that suicide is immoral, but asking someone else to kill you is OK.
47% of those polled feel that cloning humans is bad, but cloning human embryos is fine. Is that a lack of understanding about what cloning is, or what stem cells are ?

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at May 18, 2005 1:32 AM

Stem cells

Posted by: oj at May 18, 2005 7:34 AM

Michael, don't discount the number of serial divorcees. My sister in law is on her third husband.

Also, it is not uncommon to do what we would state publicly as immoral.

Posted by: Randall Voth at May 18, 2005 8:06 AM

Most civilized people understand the difference between what is immoral, or of dubious morality, and what should be subject to the criminal sanction.

Posted by: bart at May 18, 2005 10:54 AM

The things all of us do vs. those we don't.

Posted by: oj at May 18, 2005 11:06 AM

Michael, when many people say they are opposed to divorce, what they really mean is they are opposed to walking away from a marriage or engaging in behaviour that breaks the vows or makes cohabitation impossible. A traditional woman who believes marriage is for life but who starts divorce proceedings against a cheating or abusive husband isn't being hypocritical.

Posted by: Peter B at May 18, 2005 11:54 AM

Peter B:

I don't think that many of the respondents are hypocrites; I think that many of them have confused or conflicting values.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at May 18, 2005 12:32 PM

I don't think the people who are afraid of a theocratic government are assuming Bush is sincere.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at May 18, 2005 2:36 PM


We're all hypocrites.

Posted by: oj at May 18, 2005 3:46 PM


Can they even hear him from their bunkers?

Posted by: oj at May 18, 2005 3:47 PM

Again, OJ and his friends fail to comprehend the notion that most adults are capable of maintaining the idea that a behavior while immoral should be not be subject to criminality. The fact that I might not get divorced, or for that matter, eat shellfish or pork products, does not mean that I would demand that the rest of society follow suit.

Abortion is the classic example of this. In referendum after referendum, the American people in various states have supported the removal of restrictions on abortion, even partial-birth abortion. Yet, most Americans consider it immoral. It is a 'choice' they would not make but their respect for the sectarian views of others is strong enough that they do not believe they should impose their opinion on the matter on other people.

If we asked the question about 'gay marriage' in the following manner, we would probably find similar results:

'The United Church of Christ, a member of the National Council of Churches, has expressed the view that it is theologically consistent with the Bible and with Christian values to perform a same-sex marriage. Do you believe that they should be allowed to do so?'

Most Americans do not perceive the UCC as being a weird cult like the Moonies so they would be willing to give its clergy some deference in their interpretation of the Bible, regardless of how loopy they may believe that interpretation to be. It's all a matter of balancing out whatever it means to live together in a society where we do not share the same opinions about most issues, or where there is significant dissent on virtually everything. If the UCC wants to perform a marriage between two men, why does that become my problem as a non-UCC member, except for perhaps wanting to avoid the thrown bouquet at all costs?

Posted by: bart at May 18, 2005 6:06 PM


No they haven't.

Posted by: oj at May 18, 2005 7:15 PM

A little tidbit from the UCC website. Please note the tone of the article clearly endorsing same-sex marriage. It is inevitable that one or more of several 'mainstream Protestant' denominations will accept same-sex marriage. So, my question remains valid.

The 1.3-million-member United Church of Christ could become the first mainline Christian denomination to endorse full marriage equality - regardless of gender - if a proposed resolution is approved by the church's General Synod this summer.

The controversial measure, brought forward by the UCC's Southern California - Nevada Conference, became public today (April 21) when proposed resolutions facing the church's national assembly were made available online at The UCC's biennial General Synod - with about 3,000 delegates and visitors - will meet July 1-5 at the Georgia World Congress Center in downtown Atlanta.

"Ideas about marriage have shifted and changed dramatically throughout human history, and such change continues even today," reads the opening line of the proposed resolution, which goes on to spell out historical, theological and biblical rationale for affirming both civil and religious recognition of same-gender marriage.

It marks the first time the church's General Synod has been asked to address the issue of marriage equality outright.

Asked for comment, the Rev. John H. Thomas, the UCC's general minister and president, told United Church News he would not make a statement about the proposal until he has had an opportunity to listen to different perspectives from within the denomination.

In past years, the General Synod - which speaks "to" but not "for" the UCC's nearly-6,000 congregations - has sidestepped the issue of same-gender marriage, even while it has affirmed the ordination of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons; called for full civil rights and equal protections; and blessed the idea of "equal rites in covenant life" (or holy unions) for non-married couples.

Earlier this year, the Cleveland-based denomination found itself at the center of the marriage debate when it launched a national television advertising campaign that featured a gay couple, among others, being excluded from an unwelcoming, metaphorical church. CBS and NBC executives rejected the 30-second ads, calling them issue-advocacy spots. CBS argued the UCC's "bouncer ad" was a political statement about same-gender marriage - a claim that church leaders flatly rejected.

The Rev. Libby Tigner, a spokesperson for the Southern California - Nevada Conference, told United Church News that same-gender marriage equality is both a legal and religious issue that should be acted upon by the General Synod.

"We believe that all people are created equal in the eyes of God and should be treated equal by our governmental bodies," she said. "This is a justice issue."

Tigner, an associate minister at First Congregational United Church of Christ in Long Beach, Calif., said the would-be resolution stems from a similarly worded statement approved overwhelmingly at the Conference's annual meeting held last year.

"That resolution instructed our Conference leaders to bring this resolution to General Synod," she said, noting she realizes it is likely to generate heated debate.

"There will be very lively conversation," she said, "and I hope there will be prayerful discernment among the delegates, because God is still speaking to us about marriage."

The proposal is certain to be met with opposition from some UCC members, pastors and churches. Already, eight geographically-diverse congregations already joined together to offer a counter resolution calling the church "to embrace the scriptural definition of marriage."

"Throughout the scriptures, marriage is always defined as being between one man and one woman," the counter resolution states. "We find examples of those who violated God's natural moral order to their own detriment, but God's standard and definition remained constant."

The Rev. Brett W. Becker, pastor of the 300-member St. Paul UCC in Cibolo, Texas, who authored the one-man, one-woman resolution, said he believes the UCC should be prophetic in its defense of "traditional, biblical marriage."

"We are the United Church of Christ and I'd like to see us be faithful to the teachings of Jesus," Becker said. "[Jesus] says point blank that fornication is a sin - and it's a wide term that applies to all sexual behavior outside of marriage between a man and a woman."

The Southern California - Nevada proposal argues that, throughout history, marriage has been an evolving institution, pointing to earlier times when polygamy was biblically normative, women were considered property and interracial marriages were not only taboo, but illegal.

"Ideas about marriage have shifted and changed dramatically throughout human history," it reads.

Becker, however, claims otherwise in his counter resolution: "The scriptures never define marriage as being anything other than the union of one man and one woman."

Said Becker, speaking about his proposal, "We should be loving toward all people, regardless of what issues they are dealing with, and if we truly love someone we will encourage them to avoid those things that are contrary to the teachings of Jesus."

A third marriage-related document, brought by the Central Atlantic Conference, takes a more-cautious approach by asking the church "to enter into prayer, study and conversation" about marriage equality, including a review of "cultural practices, economic realities, political dynamics, religious history, and biblical interpretations."

All three marriage-related documents are to be considered alongside about 25 other issue-oriented proposals. Several address more-internal aspects of the church's organizational life.

The UCC and its predecessor bodies have a long history of "arriving early" on issues of social justice. According to its website , the UCC heritage lays claim to being the first church to advocate for democracy and self-governance (1630), among the first to stand against slavery (1700), the first to inspire and promote acts of civil disobedience (1773), the first predominately-white church to ordain an African-American pastor (1785), the first to create a foreign missions society (1810), the first to form a theologically-diverse "united church" (1840), the first to form an integrated anti-slavery society (1846), the first to ordain a woman (1853), the first church to assert that airwaves are owned by the public, not corporations (1959), the first to ordain an openly gay man (1972), the first mainline, racially-integrated national church to elect an African-American leader (1976), and the first to publish an inclusive-language hymnal (1995).

The UCC's historical list of "firsts" is available online at

The United Church of Christ was formed in 1957 with the union of the Congregational Christian Churches in America and the Evangelical and Reformed Church. UCC congregations and structures, some dating back to the early 1600s, are among the oldest in the nation.

Posted by: bart at May 18, 2005 7:32 PM


Regarding abortion, it depends on how the question is asked. When pollsters get specific, you find about 65-70% of Americans supporting the abolition of most abortions. Even NOW was freaking out about this a few years ago, when one of their own polls portrayed the public as fundamentally pro-life and moving rightward on the issue as time passed.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at May 21, 2005 5:41 PM