American Catholics also are somewhat less apt than all Americans in this survey to favor legal abortion (46 percent of Catholics do, compared with 56 percent of all Americans); still, that means nearly half of Catholics are out of sync with the Vatican on this issue. And there are broader gaps on other issues -- two-thirds of Catholics support the death penalty; nearly six in 10 support both embryonic stem-cell research and legal recognition for same-sex couples.
Additionally, in terms of its direct engagement in politics, seven in 10 Catholics oppose the church's denying communion to Catholic politicians who are in favor of legal abortion. Even among weekly churchgoing Catholics, 58 percent are opposed.
Catholics also are less likely than Protestants to say religion is "the most important thing" in their lives. Sixteen percent of all Catholics say so, rising to 25 percent of weekly churchgoing Catholics. But it's 28 percent among all Protestants, 50 percent among weekly churchgoing Protestants, and 55 percent among weekly churchgoing evangelical Protestants.
Is Religion the Most Important Thing in Your Life?
|Weekly Churchgoing Catholics||25|
|Weekly Churchgoing Protestants||50|
|Weekly Churchgoing Evangelical Protestants||55|
Finally, for all the controversy about sexual abuse, the priesthood retains some attraction. Fifty-three percent of Catholics say they'd want their son to become a priest (if they had one), and that rises to 68 percent of Catholics who attend church weekly.
This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone April 21-24, 2005, among a random national sample of 1,082 adults, including an oversample of Catholics for a total of 284 Catholic respondents. The results have a three-point error margin for the full population, and six points for Catholics. Sampling, data collection and tabulation by TNS of Horsham, Pa.
You can find more ABC News polls in our Poll Vault.