The Telegraph reports the findings of a YouGov survey of more than 4,000 people, commissioned by the organisers of the Westminster Faith Debates. It finds that the faithful are just as likely to support same-sex marriage quietly as oppose it, despite vocal opposition from the leaders of almost all the major faith groups.
When those who actively describe themselves as religious but do not attend services regularly are included, more Roman Catholics and Anglicans back equal marriage than oppose it.
The polling found that within most religious groups there are also minorities who believe that same-sex marriage is wrong but still think that it should be allowed.
There’s no surprise in the discovery that opposition to gay marriage was strongest among those with the strongest religious convictions.
Among Anglicans, 44 per cent were in favour and 43 per cent against. When those who say they do not attend services regularly are excluded, only 47 per cent of Anglicans churchgoers are opposed, with 40 per cent of regular attenders in favour.
Prof Linda Woodhead, of the Religion and Society Programme, an academic unit based at Lancaster University which organises the Faith Debates, said: “The other interesting finding for me is that this identifies what I call the ‘moral minority’ in this country.”
“People of different religious persuasions who identify themselves as having a strong faith look to God, religious leaders or their teaching for guidance ahead of their “own reason” or “intuition”. They are like a moral protest group that belongs to our particular time. The majority of the population probably held a lot of their views 50 years ago but now they exist not as a relaxed majority but as a vocal minority who see themselves as standing against the majority. All the action is between them and the atheists – they bring themselves into existence they feed on each other.”