The Barna Group has tracked changes in belief among Americans on gay marriage, gay rights and the definition of marriage from 2003. They just published their findings.
The change among practicing Catholics is astonishing.
marriage defined as one man/one woman:
practicing Catholic (-14%) 64% 50%
practicing Protestant (-5%) 75% 70%
all Americans (-4%) 52% 48%
acceptability of same-sex sexual relationships:
practicing Catholic (+18%) 19% 37%
practicing Protestant (+3%) 12% 15%
all Americans (+7%) 30% 37%
Practicing Catholics are three to six times as likely to have changed their views on this social and moral issue as practicing Protestants and the American public at large.
With only a -4% and a +7% shift, the change in general public opinion has not been as significant among the general public as the strong media/entertainment pro-gay emphasis might be supposed to have caused.
However, the change in views among practicing Catholic has implications about the effectiveness of Catholic teaching and discipleship within their own communion. Catholics view marriage as one of the seven sacraments (imparting divine grace). So, teaching on marriage for Catholics rises above merely a practical Christian living emphasis into the arena of salvation itself.
Interesting that this change occurred in the same decade that the same-sex
scandal of priests having sexual relationships with young and adolescent boys was rocking the Catholic church.