A new poll shows that seventeen percent of people in the U.S. now find polygamy to be morally permissible, citing an increase of acceptance among non-religious people as a major factor.
“Though polygamous societies often justify their lifestyle on religious grounds, it is Americans who do not identify with any religion who are most accepting of the practice,” said Andrew Dugan, an analyst for Gallup.
“Between 2011 and 2017, 32 percent of Americans who do not associate with a particular religion or have no religion at all said polygamy was 'morally acceptable,'” he said in a July 28 statement.
In a Values and Beliefs pollissued May 3-7, Dugan commented that while public opinion hasn't shifted greatly on certain moral issues such as abortion, polygamy's approval rating has steadily increased 10 percent since 2003.
Despite the practice of polygamy being often found in fundamentalist sects of religion, it grew most of its acceptance from non-religious people due to LGBT and pro-abortion advocacy gaining cultural traction.
Yet no legislation has yet been passed in polygamy's favor, with the state of Utah in fact passing a bill increasing the penalty for convicted polygamists.
Statistically those actually practicing polygamy are usually in small sects of the Muslim and Mormon faith, but Dugan suggested that the raising sympathy has been a byproduct of the media.
He pointed that the approval rating really only increased after a polygamy reality show started to air in 2010. Now in the middle of its seventh season, Dugan said the show “Sister Wives” has drawn sympathy from the public by humanizing a polygamist family.
Additionally, Dugan said the increase after 2010 followed a change in the meaning of the word, switching from patriarchal and masculine centered idea to a gender neutral definition – a married individual has more than one spouse.
He doubts the practice of polygamy has increased much, but expressed it is the results of “the general tendency for those who are less religious to be more liberal on social issues.”