"Sex" spelled with vintage blocks.

Americans are showing more tolerance for a range of behaviors, with sex between unmarried adults, medical research on stem cells from human embryos, and doctor-assisted suicide all showing record highs and increases in “moral acceptability” from last year. Photo courtesy of aastock via Shutterstock

WASHINGTON (RNS) Americans are showing more tolerance for a range of behaviors, with sex between unmarried adults, medical research on stem cells from human embryos, and doctor-assisted suicide all showing record highs and increases in “moral acceptability” from last year.

The Gallup poll’s annual “moral acceptability” scale has been conducted since 2001 and charts shifting cultural attitudes on a number of hot-button social issues. In the 2014 list released Friday (May 30), Gallup researchers said 12 of the 19 categories reflected “levels of moral acceptance that are as high or higher than in the past.

Americans largely agree about the morality of several issues,” Gallup researchers said. “Most say birth control is acceptable but that extramarital affairs are wrong. However, other issues show clear, substantial divides. These differences are largely explained by party identification, but previous research has shown that age also plays a factor.” 

Three issues — sex between an unmarried man and woman, medical research on embryonic stem cells and doctor-assisted suicide — showed a slight increase in acceptability from 2013. Most of the other issues were mostly unchanged.

Gallup grouped the 19 issues into five categories, including:

Highly acceptable: birth control (90 percent)

Largely acceptable: divorce (69 percent); sex between an unmarried man and woman (66 percent); embryonic stem cell research (65 percent); gambling (62 percent); the death penalty (61 percent); buying and wearing clothing made of animal fur (58 percent); having a baby outside of marriage (58 percent); gay or lesbian relations (58 percent); medical testing on animals (57 percent)

Moral Acceptability graphic.

Moral Acceptability graphic. Photo courtesy Gallup

Contentious: Doctor-assisted suicide (52 percent); abortion (42 percent)

Largely unacceptable: Cloning animals (34 percent); pornography (33 percent); sex between teenagers (30 percent)

Highly unacceptable: Suicide (19 percent); polygamy (14 percent); cloning humans (13 percent); married men and women having an affair (7 percent)

Against a backdrop of sweeping legal victories in favor of same-sex marriage, the 58 percent of Americans who rated gay and lesbians relations as morally acceptable was mostly unchanged from last year’s rating of 59 percent. Last year’s figure, however, represented a 19-point shift since 2001, the largest change for any issue on Gallup’s list, which it started at that time.

Other notable shifts over time include having a baby out of wedlock (up 13 points from 2002); sex between unmarried adults (up 13 points since 2001), and divorce (up 10 points from 2001).

The 2014 figures were based on 1,028 phone interviews with U.S. adults in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

YS/AMB END ECKSTROM

30 Comments

  1. CarrotCakeMan

    As Americans become increasingly sure that LGBT Americans are moral, upright Americans, they also recognize anti-gays are deeply immoral. Americans know anti-gays have tried to HURT LGBT Americans, which is immoral. Americans also increasingly recognize each and every anti-gay Hate Vote was an attempt by anti-gays to subvert our United States Constitution. Americans recognize these acts of criminal sedition by anti-gays demonstrate anti-gays are traitors.

    • Frank,
      Yes, culture is in steep moral decline, just as God’s Word, the Bible prophecied it would be, in the last days of a critical era (2 Timothy 3:1-5), including lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God. This is a worldwide problem.

      • And yet in all of the world, we have gotten more peaceful, safer, and more democratic. We have fewer wars, genocides, civil conflicts than we did a generation ago, a century ago. The exception being in places where religious belief is an overwhelming component to society. Where religious fundamentalists have real political power.

        http://www.newrepublic.com/article/117226/world-war-i-anniversary-world-safer-today-100-years-ago

        http://hnn.us/article/142159

        http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Surprisingly-enough-the-world-is-a-safer-place-2324730.php

        For a world in decline, its doing really well for itself. Ironically in the eras where people took churches most seriously, when they held the most sway in our culture is when things were supremely crappy.

        Getting away from God seems to be best for mankind. :)

        • For starters, why is being more democratic is a good thing? I don’t see that at all, I’d say America has more Democrats. I could agree there. This is the least democratic the United States have been in my life time.

          This comment is blissfully ignorant of the realities of the world. War, genocide, danger, poverty, injustice, conflict and religion are all as prevalent as they’ve ever been. The only difference I can see is that man has made his own religion and no longer follows any sort of moral compass. This entire poll reflects how prevalent it is to see morality to come from within.

          • “For starters, why is being more democratic is a good thing?”

            If you have to ask the question, you are a troll. :)

            The alternative to democracy is….dictatorship. There are only 3 types of people who support a dictatorship:
            1. The dictator
            2. People who personally profit from the oppression of a dictator
            3. People who stupidly believe they are #2, but are really being used.

            Your criticism of my comments shows how unwilling you were to bother to read the articles I bothered to linked to. You are so blinkered you won’t read something which does not conform to your POV. The only one being unaware and ignorant is yourself.

            You may think the world has gotten worse, but the reality is far different. We are more aware globally of wars, genocide and injustice than we ever have.

            When was the last time two developed nations went to war with each other on the scale of a world war, or even on the same scale as the Korean War? Even in our own wars, we lost less people in 13 years of conflict than any given month in the Vietnam conflict.

            Nick you are relying on myth and religious propagandist slogans rather than reality. The big problem with using religion as a “moral compass” is it has none. People use religion to justify all sorts of immoral, harmful acts. Religion is a moral compass so useful that when implemented it always creates immorality. Whenever religion has a position of political power, it is ALWAYS used to attack the liberties of others.

            Whatever the difference is between the past and now, it is for the better. Religion has been more of a hinderance in this day and age to freedom, peace and democracy than it has in the past.

        • World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War (none of these wars were started because of a religious belief). Russia is currently in war. There are several others that I did not mention because I want to get to the genocides. 1904: Nambia – 65,000 out of a total population of 80,000 was destroyed. 1915: Turkey – Ottomans killed over one million Armenians. 1919: Ukraine – Ukrainians executed up to 250,000 Jews. 1932-33: Ukraine – Stalin of the Soviet Union purposely starved to death up to ten million Ukrainian people. late 1930s: Soviet Union – Soviet Union shot and killed up to 500,000 people for
          political genocide. early 1940s: Eastern Europe – Nazi Holocaust killed nearly six million Jews. early 1940s: Eastern Europe – Germans executed up to 500,000 gypsies. 1950s: China – killed thousands 1965: Indonesia – 600,000 people killed late 1960s: Burundi – Tutsi killed up to 300,000 Hutus in African since 1965: Guatemala – Over 100,000 Indians killed by military. late 1960s: Nigeria – Thousands of Ibos massacred. 1971: Pakistan – Up to three million Bengalis killed. 1972-1973: Paraguay – Thousands of Ache Indians killed. late 1970s: Cambodia – Up to three million Kampucheans killed. 1975 to now: Indonesia – Up to 100,000 killed. 1980s: Iran and Middle East – Thousands killed. 1992-1995: Bosnia – 200,000 deaths. 1994: Rwanda – Hutus kill 800,000 Tutsis. 2004 to Now: Sudan – 400,000 innocent people killed.

          Intellect is the companion of accurate facts.

        • wow …human slavery and travicking are at an all time high…nothing as really changed. wakeup….rape is rampant in the military and countries like india…wake up

  2. The headline for this article is s bit misleading. It should say support for premarital sex is rising. Extramarital implies adultery which is not the same thing and using it makes the headline a bit sensationalist

  3. At some point, you’ll happen upon the realization that discrimination against Gays is no less odious (and illegal) than is discrimination against those of color, creed, or origin. Very soon SCOTUS will make this unambiguously clear. A fight against Gay Americans has been picked and cannot (and will not) be won.

    • Right on. As the centers for Disease control data show, Gay people have the least health issues of any group. In fact, putting the thing in the back door has been proven to increase health by 1000 percent

      • “While anyone who has sex can get an STD, sexually active gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) are at greater risk. In addition to having higher rates of syphilis, more than half of all new HIV infections occur among MSM. Many factors contribute to the higher rates of STDs among MSM:”

        Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, Division of STD Prevention, November 14, 2013.

        Centers for disease control and prevention
        http://www.cdc.gov/std/life-stages-populations/STDFact-MSM.htm

        You literally lied and plagiarized at the same exact time. Numbers 32:23 “. . . and be sure your sin will find you out.”

  4. Michael Glass

    Note how the opinions of people on these issues change – slowly. A fast social change is one per cent a year or even more. There will be hardly any difference in attitudes in a year or even two, but after a decade the difference would be noticeable and in 50 years the majority opinion would have changed from one point of view to another.

  1. […] Un recent sondaj de opinie efectuat in America reflecta ca in societatea americana imoralitatea devine tot mai acceptata. 69% dintre americani afirma ca divortul e acceptabil din punct de vedere moral; la fel jocurile de noroc (63%); relatiile sexuale inainte de casatorie (66%); suicidul asistat (52%); relatiile homosexuale (58%). Doar 13% afirma ca clonarea umana e inacceptabila. (link) […]

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