Overall, Catholic voters are almost evenly divided between Obama supporters and Romney supporters, as I mentioned yesterday when we discussed the different religious coalitions behind each candidate. What explains the difference?
One factor is attitudes about change and tradition, according to the new report issued by the Public Religion Research Institute. “Adaptive” Catholics believe the church and its teachings should modernize and adapt to the times. “Traditionalist” Catholics say the church should preserve and stick with its traditional beliefs and practices. Adaptive Catholics, the larger of the two groups, favor Obama. Traditionalist Catholics tend to favor Romney.
Another way to look at this is to compare two different policy emphases: “social justice” versus “right to life”. Catholics who emphasize social justice believe the church should concentrate on social justice issues and helping the poor—even if it means focusing less on right to life and abortion issues. Catholics who emphasize right to life believe the opposite.
Catholics who focus on social justice tend to favor Obama over Romney by a wide margin. Right-to-life Catholics tend to favor Romney over Obama by an even wider margin.
Do these differences ring true to you?
What’s more important to you: social justice or right to life?
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Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an experiment in civil dialogue about American values.