Decoupling the Values Agenda: Millennials, Religion, and Shifting Attitudes toward Abortion and Same-sex Marriage
In recent election cycles, the so-called “values voter” agenda has often been distilled to abortion and same-sex marriage. Yet new research shows that these two controversial topics are no longer necessarily linked in the minds of Americans. The gap is particularly notable among the Millennial generation (18-29 year olds), who support gay rights at rates much higher than their parents but whose views on abortion do not deviate significantly from those of their parents or the general public. Millennials have a unique, nuanced approach to the issue of abortion, combining strong support for the availability of abortion services and access to birth control with moral reservations.
On June 9, the religion, policy and politics project at Brookings co-hosted an event with the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) to release PRRI’s “Millennials, Religion, and Abortion Survey.” One of the largest public surveys on abortion and religion ever conducted, the analysis delved into the moral complexity of views on abortion and also explored generational, religious, and ethnic differences to an extent not typically possible with smaller polls. Brookings Senior Fellow E.J. Dionne, Jr. moderated the discussion. Robert P. Jones, CEO of PRRI and principal researcher on the survey, presented key findings. Karlyn Bowman, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and Dr. Melissa Deckman, Chair and Associate Professor of Political Science and Louis L. Goldstein Associate Professor of Public Affairs at Washington College, offered analysis of the survey results and discussed their implications.
After the program, panelists took audience questions.