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Unlike other U.S. religious groups, most atheists and agnostics oppose the death penalty – Pew Research Center

A lethal injection chamber at San Quentin State Jail in California in 2010. The power was dismantled.......

A lethal injection chamber at San Quentin State Jail in California in 2010. The power was dismantled beneath a March 2019 authorities order from Gov. Gavin Newsom placing a moratorium on the demise penalty. (Wally Skalij/L. a. Occasions by way of Getty Pictures)

A majority of grownups in America favor the demise penalty for people convicted of homicide, Based mostly on a current Pew Evaluation Center survey. However, views Regarding the demise penalty differ by religion – with atheists and agnostics opposing This Sort of punishment at about The identical price as People general assist it.

Roughly two-thirds of atheists (65%) And 6-in-ten agnostics (57%) both “strongly” or “considerably” oppose the demise penalty for people convicted of homicide. Atheists and agnostics are small spiritual teams, representing Decrease than 10% of the grownup inhabitants, however their share has grown In current times.

Meanwright hereas, 60% of U.S. grownups general favor the demise penalty, collectively with 75% of White evangelical Protestants and 73% of White non-evangelical Protestants, Based mostly on the survey, which was carried out in early April. White Protestants account for about 29% of the U.S. inhabitants, a share that has shrunk In current times.

Pew Evaluation Center carried out this analysis, using knowledge from a survey of 5,109 U.S. grownups fielded April 5 to 11, 2021, To raised understand how People’ views Regarding the demise penalty differ by religion. Everyone who took half On this survey is a member of The middle’s American Trfinishs Panel (ATP), An internet-based survey panel That is recruited by way of nationbroad, random sampling of residential addresses. This method almost all U.S. grownups have An alternative of selection. The survey is weighted to be consultant of the U.S. grownup inhabitants by gfinisher, race, ethnicity, halfisan affiliation, education and completely different packages. Study extra Regarding the ATP’s methodology.

Listed right here are the questions used for this report, Together with responses, and its methodology.

Atheists and agnostics are The one spiritual teams On this analysis Which Usually tfinish to oppose the demise penalty than to assist it. Groups with majorities in favor of executing convicted homicideers embrace Hispanic Catholics (61%) and Individuals who describe themselves, spiritually, as “nothing Notably” (63%). Black Protestants are divided Of their views on the demise penalty, with 50% in favor and 47% opposed, mirroring a broader trfinish of lower assist for the demise penalty amongst Black People general. 

As a Outcome of of pattern measurement limitations, this analysis Does not embrace some smaller spiritual teams, collectively with Jewish and Muslim People.

Views of the demise penalty additionally differ by political orientation, race and age – traits that tfinish To vary between spiritual teams. For event, atheists are youthful and extra politically liberal than White evangelicals on common. Nonetheless, wright hereas these variations account for A pair of of the variation throughout spiritual teams, spiritual variations in assist for the demise penalty stay even after accounting for these completely different traits.

Alongside with exploring ranges of assist for the demise penalty, the survey requested respondents Whether or not or not they really feel This Sort of punishment is morally justified, whether it acts as a deterrent, whether tright here are enough safeguards To Make constructive that no innocent particular person is put to demise, and whether sentencing For The identical crime varies by race.

As quickly as extra, on a quantity of Of these questions, atheists and agnostics fall on one finish of the spectrum and White Protestants on The completely different. Roughly half of atheists (51%) and agnostics (47%) say the demise penalty is morally incorrect, even For people who commit crimes like homicide. Fewer than half as many White Protestants (22%) – evangelical and not evangelical – really feel The identical method, with Greater than three-quarters in these teams saying the demise penalty is morally justified when somebody commits A felony offense like homicide.

White evangelical Protestants are additionally The one spiritual group By which a plurality (51%) say the demise penalty deters people from committing critical crimes. By comparability, about half as many Black Protestants (27%) think about the demise penalty acts as a deterrent. Usually talking, Individuals with any spiritual affiliation are extra probably than these with out one to say That the specter of the demise penalty deters critical crimes: 39% of affiliated grownups say this, in contrast with 26% of the unaffiliated.

Huge majorities in every spiritual group say Tright here’s some hazard that an innocent particular person Shall be put to demise. However, White evangelical Protestants are extra probably than Ancompletely different group analyzed to say tright here are enough safeguards in place To Make constructive that no innocent particular person Shall be put to demise, with three-in-ten taking this place. Among spiritually unaffiliated People, solely about one-in-ten atheists and agnostics say enough safeguards are in place To cease innocent people from being executed. Unaffiliated Individuals who say their religion is “nothing Notably” are twice as More probably to say The identical (20%).

Tright here Are additionally broad variations over whether the demise penalty is utilized equally by race. About 9-in-ten Black Protestants (88%) say Black Individuals are extra probably than White people to be sentenced to demise for committing comparable crimes, wright hereas almost seven-in-ten White evangelicals (68%) say that White and Black Individuals are equally More probably to be sentenced to demise. Roughly half of White non-evangelicals (53%) and Catholics (47%) think about the demise penalty is utilized equally between these two races.

Notice: Listed right here are the questions used for this report, Together with responses, and its methodology.

Stephanie Kramer  is a research affiliate Specializing in religion at Pew Evaluation Center.