Last week the Public Religion Research Institute’s big survey on immigration showed, unsurprisingly, that white evangelicals are the ethno-religious group least supportive of a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. To be sure, a path is supported by 56 percent of them–not a whole lot less than the 63 percent of all Americans who support it.
Still, it’s worth wondering whether there’s a generational divide on the subject, with younger evangelicals perhaps more supportive than their elders. The answer turns out to be no. According to figures provided by PRRI’s ever agreeable staff, white evangelicals age 18-34 support a path to citizenship at just about the same rate as all other white evangelicals.
In that respect, the immigration issue is like the abortion issue: Younger evangelicals are only marginally less anti-abortion than their elders. Specifically, 58 percent of the 18-34 cohort think abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, as opposed to 64 percent of the older cohorts.
But same-sex marriage is different. In the PRRI survey, fully 26 percent of 18-34 white evangelicals favor SSM and 25 percent favor it strongly. That’s compared to 13 percent percent and seven percent respectively for white evangelicals 35 and older. Altogether, more than half of younger white evangelicals support SSM while just 20 percent of older ones do.
This amounts to a political argument in favor of Republicans (on or off the Supreme Court) letting SSM become the new normal in American society. When the base of your party is rolling up on that issue, it’s time to let go.