A new report released jointly by Third Way, a moderate think tank, and Public Religion Research, an independent research firm, seeks to unearth patterns in the contemporary religious landscape. The study focused on four major religious groups in the United States: white evangelical Protestants, white mainline Protestants, African American Protestants, and Roman Catholics (Latino and non-Latino). These four groups together compose three quarters of America’s population. The 50-page report highlighted new patterns, including: -Younger white evangelicals are less likely to identify as conservative and are more supportive of relationship recognition for gay and lesbian couples, with a majority (52%) supporting either civil unions or marriage for gay and lesbian couples. -Mainline Protestants are the religious group most supportive of abortion rights and legal protections for gay and lesbian people; they are also strong supporters of comprehensive immigration reform. -African Americans break the stereotype that high levels of religiosity are always correlated with conservatism and identification with the Republican Party. – The conservative stance of the hierarchy should not be mistaken for the stand of rank-and-file Catholics, whose views generally reflect, or are sometimes more progressive than, the public. At the Huffington Post, Third Way Vice President for Policy Jim Kessler writes, “Does this mean all the old battle lines have been abolished and that we’re all ready to sing Kumbaya? Not quite. There are still significant fault lines in the American religious landscape, even if they are running in less predictable ways. But there is new opportunity because of the seismic changes that are riling all of the major religious groups in the American landscape…The evidence clearly indicates that it’s time to retire our old stereotypes and evaluate with fresh eyes the new terrain in the American religious landscape.” Click here to read the full article and report.
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