In a recent TribTalk piece that began with the phrase "As a Christian," State Representative David Simpson (R-Longview) drew substantially on his faith and the Bible to argue in favor of reforming drug laws here in Texas. Simpson singled out marijuana in his piece (also reflected in the editor's art selection), writing, "I don't believe that when God made marijuana he made a mistake that government needs to fix."
Alert to signals that marijuana has been a slow-burning issue in the state and in the legislature (and nationally, for that matter), we included a question assessing attitudes toward degrees of marijuana decriminalization in the February 2015 University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll. Simpson's argument invites a look at marijuana attitudes when broken down by how people describe their views of the Bible, given his reliance on the text for part of his argument.
|category||Bible is the word of God, to be taken literally||Bible is the word of God, not to be taken literally||Bible is a book written by men|
|Marijuana possession should not be legal under any circumstances.||35%||21%||12%|
|Marijuana possession should be legal for medical purposes only.||38%||40%||17%|
|Possession of small amounts of marijuana for any purpose should be legal.||18%||28%||37%|
|Possession of any amount of marijuana for any purpose should be legal.||9%||11%||35%|
The results suggest that those believing in biblical literalism – those who agree with the statement: "The Bible is the actual word of God and is to be taken literally, word for word." – are more in favor of marijuana possession being illegal under any circumstance (35 percent) and much less likely to be in favor of any significant degree of decriminalization outside of legalizing marijuana possession for medicinal use. Like Texans overall, the most common attitude (albeit by a narrow, statistically insignificant margin) among those espousing biblical literalism is to favor medical marijuana. It might be tempting for decriminalization advocates to speculate that Simpson is on the leading edge of a shift in attitudes among Evangelicals, but the data makes it appear that his views are more idiosyncratic than illuminating of some underlying trend.
category column-1 Marijuana possession should not be legal under any circumstances. 24% Marijuana possession should be legal for medical purposes only. 34% Possession of small amounts of marijuana for any purpose should be legal. 26% Possession of any amount of marijuana for any purpose should be legal. 16%