When it comes to moral values, Americans feel that the countries moral compass is off. According to a new poll from Gallup, citing their Values and Beliefs survey:
Most Americans are still highly pessimistic about the direction in which moral values in the United States are headed. Seventy-two percent say moral values in the country as a whole are getting worse, essentially unchanged from 73% last year, but improved from more than 80% in 2006 through 2008. Twenty percent now say values are getting better, and 6% say they are staying the same.
These numbers are slightly more optimistic than 2006-2008, when more than 80 percent of Americans thought moral values were getting worse and only 11 percent thought they were getting better. It would be interesting to examine a before and after picture of the Kermit Gosnell trial, but the data are not conducive to such a snap shot.
Only 19 percent say U.S. moral values are “excellent or good,” while 44 percent say they are “poor” and 36 percent say “only fair.” Alyssa Brown, author of the Gallup report, said:
The net result of these two trends is that seven in 10 Americans have a negative view of moral values in the nation.
The random poll, conducted by telephone of 1,535 adults, also found pessimism to be strongest among Republicans. A full 87 percent of Republicans, and 68 percent of political independents are pessimistic about the moral compass of the nation, as compared to 56 percent of Democrats.
Pessimism was more than 60 percent in all groups of Americans, regardless of breakdowns by annual household income, marital status or religious attendance.
In 2012, Ms. Brown noted, Gallup found that Americans were most upset by a perceived lack of respect or intolerance for other people. Ms. Brown wrote:
So their sour outlook on U.S. values may have more to do with basic matters of civility than with the more controversial moral issues that currently divide Americans.
In a separate Gallup report, issued Monday, Americans gauged the “moral acceptability” of 20 social issues, which was a bit all over the place – or rather contradictory.
Between 2001 and 2013, public approval of “gay or lesbian relations” jumped 19 points to 59 percent approval, the Values and Beliefs survey found.
Other activities with high moral acceptability were use of birth control, which stood at 91 percent approval. Getting divorced is widely accepted by 68 percent approval, and unmarried man and woman having sex is approved of by 63 percent. Surprisingly, reflecting just how poorly of a job the political right has done messaging the facts, having a baby outside of marriage is approved of by 60 percent of Americans. Using human embryos for medical stem-cell research is also approved of by a majority of Americans – 60 percent.
The only taboo activity that became even more taboo in 2013 was adultery, as only 6 percent approved of married spouses having an affair, down from 7 percent who approved it in 2001.
But two other taboo activities — polygamy and “cloning humans” — saw their acceptability essentially double, to 14 percent and 13 percent approval, respectively.