LAST WEEK a YouGov survey won the booby prize for the most stupid question in an opinion poll:
Do you think Jesus would support or oppose renationalising the railways, so they are run in the public sector rather than by private companies?
It’s unlikely Jesus would have held a view, given that public transport had not been invented. But as one wag pointed out on Twitter: ‘He arrived by Virgin‘!
This one just one of a series of questions YouGov asked in what it calls ‘a new thought experiment’, with the explanation, ‘we would like you to image that Jesus expressed views on the political issues of the day.’
In the analysis of its findings, YouGov compared respondents’ own views with what they imagine Jesus would think which, they claim
‘suggests interesting insights as to how virtuous, or at least Christian, they consider their own political views to be.’
For instance, on nationalisation of the railways:
the net proportions who support and oppose it in the public are similar to the proportions who think Jesus would support and oppose it, suggesting that it is not considered a particularly moral issue.
By contrast, however, Jesus would not see eye-to-eye with most of the public on immigration:
where 77% of British people say immigration limits should be tighter and only 5% looser, Jesus is imagined as favouring looser restrictions by 39-15%.
and on the death penalty:
with the public tending to support it by 45-39%, but Jesus imagined as being in opposition by 49-17%.
The most interesting response of all was:
On the issue of gay marriage, the British public maintain that Jesus would be in favour of it – although to a lesser degree than the public are themselves. As of May last year, voters were in favour by a margin of 54-37%, while Jesus is thought to only slightly support it by 35-30%.
If you’re concerned about whether or not Jesus would save the railways from privatisation, you may be pleased to know that the majority (38%) of respondents thought he would.
What have we done to the image of Jesus, liberator of the oppressed, when the public think he is more likely to renationalise the railways than to respect the dignity of loving same-sex couples and their desire to make a life-long commitment to one another?