Some 64% of voters would support a Muslim holding a high political office, while 20% said an evangelical Christian should not be allowed to go for such a job. In a YouGov study of over 2,000 adults in Great Britain, 58% of those surveyed said they would support people of a religious faith holding a top government job while just over half think an evangelical Christian should be allowed to. The survey, commissioned by religious think tank Theos, comes as the Scottish National Party failed leadership contender Kate Forbes came under fire for her Christian views, particularly in relation to gay marriage. Forbes, who is a member of the Free Church of Scotland, said she wouldn’t have voted in favour of legalising same-sex marriage. The poll was commissioned to understand what views the public felt should bar someone from high political office. A spokesman for Theos said, “We felt it was important to test the legitimacy of the Christian faith in the public sphere.”
“Opposition to same-sex marriage scored highly.” The study also asked people if they believed those who oppose same-sex marriage should be allowed to hold a top government job in the UK. Less than a third thought that a politician who opposes same-sex marriage should be able to go for a top position, while 50% thought they should not. Also public perceptions of evangelical Christians have drastically changed over the past decade: The spokesman said “If we did this polling ten years ago, I think you’d see that the most feared group were Muslims. But now amongst Catholics, Orthodox Jews, Muslims and evangelical Christians the most opposed group are evangelical Christians.” He also said Christians are perceived negatively in society because they don’t fit the “script”, which “wants to bring those that are marginal to the centre and to offer them protection and to make sure their rights are protected”.
Nick Spencer, a senior fellow at Theos said “Evangelical Christians are perceived to be established, so the task is to push them out of the centre and put them on the margins. Our research shows we have a complicated and slightly hypocritical attitude to religion in public life. Most of us are happy to welcome it, even at the highest levels, in theory. But on the other hand, when that religious commitment entails unpopular, challenging or socially conservative views, we are much more hesitant. It all poses an awkward question to citizens of liberal democracies: how open and inclusive are we really?” Other key data from the study revealed 74% of those aged 18–24, would vote for someone who supported same–sex marriage and 68% for someone who supported climate change, having a top political job.
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