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Gallup poll shows shift in views on morality over last decade

Compiled by Lois M. Collins, Deseret News

Published: Fri, May 24 10:25 a.m. MDT

 A model wears a design from the Bora Aksu collection during London Fashion Week, Friday, Feb. 15, 2013, in London. The percentage of Americans who approve of buying and wearing clothes made of animal fur, the death penalty, doctor-assisted suicide, and medical testing on animals all dropped slightly, while the number who find medical testing on animals morally acceptable is down 9 percent between 2001 and 2013.

A model wears a design from the Bora Aksu collection during London Fashion Week, Friday, Feb. 15, 2013, in London. The percentage of Americans who approve of buying and wearing clothes made of animal fur, the death penalty, doctor-assisted suicide, and medical testing on animals all dropped slightly, while the number who find medical testing on animals morally acceptable is down 9 percent between 2001 and 2013.

(Jonathan Short, Jonathan Short/Invision/AP)

Cheating on a spouse came in dead last when 1,535 Americans were asked the moral acceptability of 20 different behaviors, according to a new Gallup poll.

"On the other hand, divorce is among the most morally acceptable behaviors: 68 percent of respondents said it's okay, making it the second-most acceptable on the list, after birth control (which 91 percent of respondents approve of)," said an article in The Atlantic. "So it seems people don't disapprove of spouses ending a marriage, but they do have a problem with husbands and wives sleeping around when they're in one," wrote Eleanor Barkhorn.

Gallup's summary focused on the shift in attitudes on certain issues since 2001. "Their acceptance of gay and lesbian relations has increased the most, up 19 percentage points in the past 12 years — to a record high of 59 percent today. Americans' tolerance toward having a baby outside of marriage is also now much greater, up 15 points since 2001, to the current 60 percent," it said.

Tolerance hasn't risen across the board: The percentage of Americans who approve of buying and wearing clothes made of animal fur, the death penalty, doctor-assisted suicide, and medical testing on animals all dropped slightly, while the number who find medical testing on animals morally acceptable is down 9 percent between 2001 and 2013.

"A majority of Americans continue to say seven of the 19 items measured are morally wrong — married men and women having an affair, cloning humans, polygamy, suicide, pornography, sex between teenagers (measured for the first time this year), and cloning animals. Attitudes toward two items — doctor-assisted suicide and abortion — are fairly evenly split, with less than half of Americans seeing each as either morally acceptable or morally unacceptable," the release said.

EMAIL: lois@deseretnews.com, Twitter: Loisco

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1. Tolstoy
salt lake, UT,
May 24, 2013

you dont need a poll to tell you there has been a change just read any far right post on these threads and you can see how far those that claim to be the most moral have moved in the direction of relativism.

2. Hutterite
American Fork, UT,
May 24, 2013

Photo radar. It's time that makes the 'immoral' list.

3. Tators
Hyrum, UT,
May 24, 2013

It's somewhat interesting that God's laws of morality never vary. They have remained constant and consistent throughout mankind's history. Rock solid.
Yet, as this article demonstrates, mankind's views of morality acceptance bend and sway with the political winds from generation to generation. They never stay the same for long. And each new change leaves that viewer feeling wiser and more informed than his predecessor. It's little wonder that as per the Bible, "man's wisdom is foolishness unto God".
Undoubtedly, there will be some rebuttals to this that will prove as much.

4. belgie
Tualatin, OR,
May 24, 2013

Not that I approve of polygamy, but it continues to amaze me that the majority of America is so accepting of homosexual relationships, sex and childbirth outside of marriage, divorce, etc., but so adamantly opposed to polygamy. Just goes to show that most people's morals are pretty much determined by the winds of popular culture.

5. HS Fan
Salt Lake City, UT,
May 24, 2013

Tators
The only people who know for sure what God's laws are, are the dead, and they're not talking. In the mean time we're all living on the same ship so whatever you want to fill the sail with is fine with me. Tolerance and respect is what keeps the boat a float.