Thursday, May 28, 2009

Religiosity and same-sex marriage, abortion

A couple of months ago, Razib showed the relationship between views on the Bible and on extramarital sexual activity. Predictably, biblical literalism increases the likelihood for condemnation of running around. Even when relationships are expected, it's still interesting to see the degree to which various attributes are related.

In a recent column, Jack Cashill articulated the socially conservative take on aggressive advocacy for progressive causes like same-sex marriage and abortion:
The pervasive and determined strategy of radicals across our country is to alter traditional values by relentlessly assailing those expressing biblical positions contrary to proponents of a homosexual lifestyle and unceasingly vilifying advocates for the rights of the unborn. Truth is a casualty. The means are everything, and the goal is destruction of the Christian pillars that have stabilized the country for more than two centuries.
Just how different are the takes on these two 'hot buttons' between the most and least religious? The GSS offers a couple of ways of gauging religiosity--descriptions of the Bible, and the frequency of attendance at a house of worship.

The first table shows the level of support for same-sex marriage (on a scale from -2 to +2, with positive values indicating support and negative values indicating opposition) and the percentage of each group that backs the right of a woman to have an abortion for any reason by biblical description. To ensure contemporary relevance, all responses are from the year 2000 on:

BibleGay marriageAbort any reason
Word of God(1.02)20.6%
Inspired Word(0.17)41.9%
Book of fables0.5068.4%

The subsequent table shows the same by frequency of religious attendance:

AttendanceGay marriageAbort any reason
More than weekly(1.44)11.2%
Almost weekly(0.79)26.6%
2-3x per month(0.40)35.8%
Several times a year(0.21)43.7%
Less than yearly0.0253.4%

Like Razib's presentation, nothing is particularly surprising here, other than perhaps how perfect the trends are. Without exception, as frequency of worship increases, support for same-sex marriage and for abortion decreases.

It is understandable that devout Christians feel support for things like same-sex marriage and abortion are tantamount to assaults on their value systems. Conversely, it's easy to see why progressives see religion as an obstacle to realizing their social objectives, even if they do not necessarily despise religiosity per se.

GSS variables used: BIBLE, ATTEND, YEAR(2000-2008), MARHOMO, ABANY


Anonymous said...


Those who never attend church only support abortion for any reason at the 55.8% rate.

Does that mean that 44.2% might support restrictions like women must be allowed to see the ultrasound image if they want to?

The Undiscovered Jew said...

Higher IQ whites are less religous, but they are also more likely to support economic libertarianism and libertarians might be smarter than left-liberals.

I did a GSS search to check if higher IQ whites support equality of opportunity over equality of outcome and found higher IQ whites were a bit more likely to support opportunity over outcome than lower IQ whites.

I used with OPOUTCME as my row, WORDSUM as my column RACE(1) as my control and no year breakdown because I kept getting an error message when I tried to control for the years 1996-2006.


Jason Richwine at the AEI blog has a post up on a new study that social conservatives are less intelligent than liberals (though I still think the more important question is whether economic and social libertarians best liberals in the IQ department):

Are Conservatives Really Less Intelligent?

The Undiscovered Jew said...

I used the GSS variable, EQWLTHY, and found high IQ white people are also more likely to say the government should not concern itself with reducing income inequality.

Audacious Epigone said...


If you're making an ironic or snide comment, I'm missing it. There are no restrictions on women seeing ultrasound images (at least not in the US!).


The OPOUTCME question was only asked in 1993. An easy way to test for when an item was used is to put the variable in question in the Row: field and YEAR in the Column: field and then take a quick look at the resulting table.

Overwhelmingly respondents across the board say equality of opportunity is more important than equality of outcomes, so the distinctions don't tell us a whole lot.

I wonder what the best proxy for political libertarianism in the GSS is. I've not found anything that is satisfying. Any ideas?

Stopped Clock said...

UJ: I think that's a good essay, thank you for posting it.

Anonymous said...

The Plan -- (THIS WILL WORK)

Here is the Plan:

A. Back off and let those men
who want to marry men, marry men.

B. Allow those women who want
to marry women, marry women.

C. Allow those folks who want to
abort their babies, abort their babies.

D. In three generations, there will be no Democrats.

The Undiscovered Jew said...


You're welcome.


The best way to go about comparing liberals to libertarians might be to compare respondent's political views at each individual wordsum level.

Here is a GSS search I tried and you can see if this helps compare libertarians to liberals.

I used:

Row: TAX
Control: RACE(1) WORDSUM
Filter: YEAR(1996-2008)

I found at WORDSUM 9, there are more moderates in absolute terms who score a 9 WORDSUM, inspite of the fact that moderates overall are less likely to be intelligent.

Conservatives and slight Conservatives greatly outnumbered the number of extreme conservatives.

Slight liberals and liberals greatly outnumbered extreme liberals.

So extreme liberals and extreme conservatives are both less likely to be represented at the highest levels of intelligence.

Excluding extreme liberals and extreme conservatives and excluding moderates, I found there are more conservatives and slight conservatives who believe taxes are too high than there are liberals and slight liberal who believe taxes are either just right or too low.

Basically, when comparing liberals and libertarians/fiscal conservatives of equal intelligence levels, I am tempted to conclude that there are numerically more libertarian leaning people on economic issues than there are leftists and that, overall, libertarian leaning people are more likely to be on average more intelligent than leftists.

The Undiscovered Jew said...

By comparison, you use all of the above variables I listed, but replace TAX with the variable, ABANY, you will see at WORDSUM level 10 that there are more extreme liberals, liberals and slight liberals in favor of abortion for any reason compared to the number of extreme conservative, conservative, and slight conservatives who oppose abortion for any reason.

This indicates that people who both support abortion for any reasona and think taxes are too high (ie, libertarians) will outscore liberals who believe in abortion on demand but are economically leftist.

The Undiscovered Jew said...

I tried to compare WORDSUM scores to the number of very pro abortion respondents with the total number respondent's differing views on taxes.

In the first chart, I used

Row: ABANY(1) TAX(1)
Column: Wordsum
Filter: YEAR(1996-2008)

In the second chart, I used

Row: ABANY(1) TAX(2-3)
Control: RACE(1)
Filter: YEAR(1996-2008)

The trend holds in both cases, there are numerically more people with WORDSUM scores 8-10 who are BOTH pro abortion for any reason and who fell that taxes are too high than there are respondents scoring 8-10 who feel taxes are just right or too low.

Again, the indication is that libertarians are on average more intelligent than liberals are.

The Undiscovered Jew said...

The TAX variable may not be such a good option because some who consider themselves libertarian may answer that taxes are fine where they are.

A better variable to use would be to use TAXSPEND, instead of TAX, which asks whether the respondent prefers to cut taxes or spend more on social programs like healthcare because the respondent can only answer yes or now.

The percentage of respondents who scored an 8-10 on WORDSUM and who are pro abortion AND who support cutting taxes over spending is 30.6%.

The percentage of respondents who scored an 8-10 on WORDSUM and who are pro abortion but prefer spending on social programs is 26.9%.

But there were numerically more high spenders (80) than there were tax cutters (72) who scored 8-10 on WORDSUM.

My conclusion is that libertarians are the brains behind the GOP coalition and the less smart social conservatives are the muscle.

The GOP needs to find a way to placate both libertarian leaning Democrats and independents while also pleasing social conservatives.

The Undiscovered Jew said...

One last thought for tonight: libertarians - being the "brain" of the GOP coalition - need to be persuaded that low IQ immigration is bad for economic reasons.

Libertarians need to be convinced low IQ immigration is bad before the GOP will start taking a tougher stand on immigration.

Social conservatives already are more negative towards immigration.

Restritionists need to use more HBD and Mark Krikorian economic style arguments against immigration to bring the libertarians on board.

Anonymous said...


Some state legislatures are passing laws to ensure that abortion providers do not deny women the opportunity to see the ultrasound image if the provider performs an ultrasound exam.

Abortion providers lobby against bills requiring providers to allow women to see the image. I guess that means they would prefer to retain the ability to say no.

This is just an example of a restriction on abortion.

As far as I know there is no specific law requiring doctors to offer people to see x-rays of their broken arm.

My point was that only 55.8% of those who never attend church favor abortion legal for any reason.

That means 44.2% do not.

So it makes me wonder what restrictions they might support. The ultrasound law might me the sort of restriction they would support. Of course maybe not.

Obviously the data can't show that. It just makes me wonder.

Also only 68% of those who believe that the Bible is a book of fables support abortion for any reason. It makes me wonder what restrictions the other 32% would favor. Ultrasound view? Parent notification? what?

Again the data can't show that. It just makes me wonder what restrictions they support, if they don't say that they do support abortion for any reason.

Sorry if I sounded snide. I hadn't meant to be.

Audacious Epigone said...


Heh, I've heard variations on that play before. There won't be many white Democrats, anyway.


Nice work.

Are you comparing the high-end WORDSUM respondents to the total respondent pool? For example, using your years, I'm seeing that 20.1% of extreme liberals are in the 9-10 range. 19.2% for liberals, 16.0% for lean-lib, only 8.5% for moderates, 12.4% lean-con, 12.6% con, and 11.6% for extreme-con.


It's not your fault that I missed the thrust of what you were saying. I would assume many of those who do not support the unconditional right to an abortion have in mind more substantive restrictions (first/second trimester only, father wants the baby, etc). But as you say, the GSS doesn't allow us to get that specific.

The Undiscovered Jew said...


All I did was divide abortion supporters into seperate groups by economic viewpoint.

For example, try breaking up respondents into two groups:

Group A (Cut Taxes, N=52):

Row: ABANY(1)
Control: TAXSPEND(1).
Filter: YEAR(1996-2008) RACE(1)

Group B (Increase Spending, N=72):

Row: ABANY(1)
Control: TAXSPEND(2).
Filter: YEAR(1996-2008) RACE(1)

Then take each Group and divide the number of respondents who scored 8-10 on Wordsum to figure out which group has a higher percentage of high WORDSUM scorers.


In Group A, there were 18 respondents scoring an 8 or higher.

In Group B, there were 24 respondents scoring 8 or higher.

Group A (The "Libertarians") 18/52 = 34.6% of all respondents in Group A were high intelligence.

Group B (The Liberals) 24/72= 33.3% of all respondents in group B were high intelligence.

The Ns were small here so you may want to look for another variable with a higher number of respondents.

But the overall trick is to use an abortion variable as a filter.

Audacious Epigone said...


Okay, that's satisfying. I wasn't certain that's how you were doing it, but it makes sense.

Yes, abortion is probably the best proxy to separate conservatives from libertarians and liberals.