Catholic voters turn to Rudd

An online poll has found that 65 per cent of Catholics and 47 per cent of Anglicans say that they will vote for Labor at the next election but a majority of Pentecostal Christians will vote for the Coalition.

The Online Opinion poll also found that Catholics are more likely than other Christians to strongly disapprove of John Howard (51 per cent to 27 per cent) and are more likely than other Christians to favour the Labor leader, Mr Rudd, (45 per cent to 39 per cent) according to the online poll by the National Forum group, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

Although poll respondents were not randomly selected, as is the practice in mainstream polls, Online Opinion says that it is one of the largest "straw polls" in Australia, with 3,189 people responding and with self-professed Christians making up 59 per cent of respondents.

Graham Young, executive director of the National Forum, said the poll showed that among Christian voters, integrity appeared to be the main issue concerning Mr Howard.

The Prime Minister was seen as dishonest and arrogant, with "lies" being one major theme, Mr Young said.

While Christians generally respected Mr Rudd for his Christianity, there were doubts about his sincerity. The Labor Party was associated with being un-Christian, bad for the economy, and pro unions, gay rights, abortion and divorce, he said.

According to The Australian, Mr Rudd received strong support from Christians and non-religious voters in the poll conducted between 17 April and 22 May.

"In modern Australia, profession of faith can lose votes, with many non-religious people stating a preference for non-religious candidates," Mr Young said.

"However, in Rudd's case, non-religious voters are more forgiving of his Christianity than they are with other politicians, while the Christian voters prefer him to his colleagues and competitors. In contrast. John Howard is marked down by non-religious for his Christianity, but not proportionately rewarded by Christians."

The Age adds that the survey also found that the Christian vote was more likely to be motivated by issues of morality, care and compassion, that Protestants were more likely to vote for the Coalition while Catholics tended to favour Labor, and that many Christians lacked the courage of their convictions at the ballot box.

"For example, while 73 per cent believe that Christian values have had a positive impact on society, only 64 per cent believe they have a place in political debate - and only 48 per cent of Catholics," Mr Young said.

Catholic voters deserting Howard: poll (Sydney Morning Herald, 11/7/07)
Catholics find faith in Rudd (The Australian, 11/7/07)
Rudd spared by voters on faith, but Howard hit (The Religious Write, The Age, 11/7/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Online Opinion
Kevin Rudd
Liberal Party
Prime Minister's Office

Right to attack Rudd on religion: Abbott (CathNews, 6/3/07)
Abbott claims DLP heritage for Liberal Party (CathNews, 30/1/07)
Imagine politics without Christians: Abbott tells critics (CathNews, 30/1/07)
Echoes of Labor Split in Vic election shock (CathNews, 13/12/06)

11 Jul 2007