- The Washington Times - Monday, May 16, 2005

The moral state of the nation is subject to interpretation among political parties, according to a Gallup poll released yesterday.

Overall, 77 percent of Americans think the country’s moral values are on the decline — a figure that has risen 10 points in three years. There is a partisan gap, however. The number stands at 82 percent among Republican respondents and 72 percent among Democrats.

Democrats are more optimistic about American morality. The poll found that 18 percent of Democrats felt the moral climate was improving, compared with 14 percent of Republicans. Overall, 16 percent of respondents said the nation’s moral climate was improving.

Meanwhile, the estate of marriage stands sacrosanct in America, Gallup found.

According to the survey, the biggest no-no of all remains the illicit affair: 93 percent of Americans find romantic dalliances between married men and women morally unacceptable.

Support for the death penalty is on the rise and at “its highest point to date,” said Joseph Carroll of Gallup. About 70 percent of Americans think the death penalty is morally acceptable. The figure has risen steadily since 2001, when it stood at 63 percent.

The nation’s judgment on abortion is in flux. A slim majority of Americans do not support abortion — with 51 percent calling it morally wrong, 40 percent accepting it and 8 percent saying their opinion “depends on the situation.”

Four years ago, 45 percent called abortion wrong, 42 percent accepted it and 11 percent felt the judgment hinged on the situation.

A majority felt “homosexual relations” were unacceptable, with 52 percent of the respondents disapproving.

More public tolerance was shown for other behaviors and their attendant outcomes. The poll found 66 percent accepted divorce, 58 percent accepted sex between unmarried men and women, and 54 percent did not have a problem with children born out of wedlock — a figure that has risen 11 points in the past three years.

But the public draws a definitive line elsewhere: 92 percent disapproved of polygamy, 87 percent said human cloning was wrong, and 82 percent could not support suicide.

Doctor-assisted suicide, however, drew a more complicated answer. The poll found that 49 percent felt the practice was morally acceptable and 46 were opposed to it. Four percent, however, said their opinion depended on the circumstances.

Meanwhile, two-thirds could accept gambling, medical testing on animals and the use of animal fur in clothing.

Six out of 10 deemed the use of stem cells derived from human embryos acceptable — up eight points from 52 percent in the past three years.

The poll of 1,005 adults was conducted May 2 to 5 and has a margin of error of three percentage points.

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