Americans say religion is losing its influence in politics, and they’d rather have it be the other way around, a new study shows.
The study, from Pew Research, shows that nearly three-quarters of Americans (72 percent) say religion is losing its influence, which is the highest level it’s been at in the past decade. Nearly half of those surveyed (49 percent) say religious groups should express their views on political and social issues, while 41 percent say political leaders express “too little” of their religious faith.
“The findings reflect a widening divide between religiously affiliated Americans and the rising share of the population that is not affiliated with any religion (sometimes called the “nones”). The public’s appetite for religious influence in politics is increasing in part because those who continue to identify with a religion (e.g., Protestants, Catholics and others) have become significantly more supportive of churches and other houses of worship speaking out about political issues and political leaders talking more often about religion. The “nones” are much more likely to oppose the intermingling of religion and politics.”
Republicans favor churches expressing their political views much more than Democrats, by a 59-42 margin.
The survey also shows a slight drop in support for gay marriage. Forty-nine percent of Americans favor it, which is down from 54 percent who supported it in a Pew poll conducted in February.
The drop in support could be attributed to an increase in Americans who say homosexuality is a sin. Currently, 50 percent of those who were polled say it is, compared to 45 percent a year ago.
Some other key findings include:
- 47 percent of Americans say Republicans are friendlier toward religion, compared to 27 percent who say that about Democrats.
- 59 percent say it’s important for members of Congress to have strong religious beliefs.
- 30 percent say the Obama administration is friendly toward religion, which is down 7 percent since 2009.