US Catholics Consistently Support Death Penalty Despite Church’s Opposition

The Catholic Church teaches that “no matter how heinous the crime, if society can protect itself without ending a human life it should do so.”

However, the majority of American Catholics have consistently supported the death penalty over the past several decades, according to an analysis by researcher Ryan Burge.

Using data from the General Social Survey, Burge found that support for the death penalty among U.S. Catholics ranged from a low of 55% in 2021 to a high of 81% in 1990.

The most recent data from 2022 showed that 61% of American Catholics favored capital punishment.

This consistent majority support for the death penalty among U.S. Catholics stands in stark contrast to the official position of the Catholic Church.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has expressed clear opposition to capital punishment, stating that society should protect itself without ending human life whenever possible.

The disconnect between the church’s teaching and the beliefs of its followers on the death penalty is part of a broader trend of “cafeteria Catholicism” in the United States, where many Catholics pick and choose which parts of the faith to abide by rather than accepting all the teachings of the church.

This poses a challenge for the Catholic Church as it seeks to maintain its moral authority and influence on social and political issues.