The country’s opinion on marijuana has changed pretty rapidly. Last November, a Gallup Poll found that 68 percent of Americans supported weed legalization, the latest record high(!) in a number that has steadily grown every year since Gallup first started asking the question in 1972, when just 12 percent of American supported it. A Pew study suggests the number may be even higher, with 91 percent of Americans supporting at least some kind of legalization.
Most Christians support weed legalization as well, with 53 percent of Catholics and 60 percent of Protestants (including just over 50 percent of evangelicals) saying they support it. But one significant holdout? Pastors. According to a new survey from Lifeway Research, more than four out of five pastors say weed should stay illegal, with 59 percent saying they strongly feel so. Just 18 percent support legalization.
“There are about as many opinions on marijuana as there are ways to consume it,” Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research, saind in a statement. “When asked about legalizing all such uses, the majority of pastors are strongly opposed.”
There’s a little bit of regional variance. 24 percent of pastors in the Northeast say weed should be legalized, compared to just 16 percent in the South — reflecting similar population and legal trends. Also, 43 percent of Mainline pastors support legalization, compared to just 10 percent of evangelicals.
Lifeway says this may point to the drift in clergy’s ability to shift public opinion. But Todd Miles, author of the upcoming Cannabis and the Christian, told LifeWay many pastors may be naive about just how common marijuana use is. Many pastors may be surprised to find that the people in their pews not only support legalization, but are getting high themselves.