A majority of young Christians support legalizing marijuana, according to a poll released last week by the Public Religion Research Institute. In keeping with other polls, their parents and grandparents don't.
While 50 percent of young Christians ages 18-29 support legalizing marijuana, only 45 percent of Christian adults and 22 percent of Christian seniors feel the same way. These numbers pretty much mirror non-religious polls.
A slightly larger number of Christian seniors–25 percent–feel that using marijuana is morally acceptable, whereas 52 percent of young Christians feel that way. A plurality of respondents–35 percent–support making marijuana legal for medical use.
Other notable findings: Evangelical Protestants are more opposed to legalization than Catholics, but they're also more likely than Catholics to have tried marijuana.
In keeping with Jacob Sullum's argument that familiarity breeds tolerance, it would appear that the disparity between young Christians and Christian seniors reflects another disparity:
- Young adults (43%) and middle-aged Americans (48%) are approximately three times more likely than seniors (15%) to report having tried marijuana.
- More than 4-in-10 (45%) Christian young adults report that they have tried marijuana, compared to 13% of Christian seniors.
Respondents' concerns about marijuana don't seem to be theological, or even moral. Across all polled denominations, 62 percent did not think marijuana use was prohibited by scripture, 60 percent did not believed that liberalizing marijuana laws a sign of "moral decline in America," and 70 percent do not believe marijuana is a sin.
You can read about the Public Religion Research Institute's poll here.