More Americans say too much religion in politics
March 21st, 2012
04:02 PM ET
11 years ago

More Americans say too much religion in politics

(CNN) – For the first time since 2001, a plurality Americans say there is too much religious talk from politicians, according to a new survey released Wednesday by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

The poll showed 38% of Americans saying there was too much religious expression from politicians, compared to 30% who said there was too little. Twenty-five percent said the current level of religious rhetoric was the right amount.

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Those figures represent a shift from 2010, when more Americans (37%) said there was too little talk of faith compared to those who said there was too much (29%).

Wednesday's survey was the first time since 2001 the figure for Americans believing there is too much religious talk in politics has surpassed the number who say there is too little.

Asked whether churches should be involved in politics, a majority of Americans (54%) said they should stay out. Forty percent said it was fine for churches to express political and social views.

Overall, a distinctive split appeared between Democrats and Republicans on the question of religion entering the political realm. More Democrats (46%) than Republicans (24%) said there was too much religious talk from politicians, though the number for both groups has increased since 2010.

When it comes to Republicans, a split emerged between supporters of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. Fifty-seven percent of Romney supporters said churches should stay out of politics, compared to 60% of Santorum backers who said churches should express political views.

Religion has emerged a number of times in the 2012 GOP presidential nominating process, including a debate over offering exemptions to a federal rule requiring religious institutions to provide health insurance coverage for contraception. Many GOP candidates said that rule encroached upon religious liberty.

Catholics in particular took offense at the rule, saying it forced them to act against their church's teaching.

The poll released Wednesday showed Catholics – a key voting bloc in the upcoming general election – increasing say the presidential administration of President Barack Obama in unfriendly to religion. Twenty-three percent held that view in 2012, compared to 17% in 2010.

The Pew surveyed 1,503 adults by telephone from March 7-11. The sampling error was plus or minus 3.0 percentage points.

In the survey of Republicans, 412 GOP voters were polled and the sampling error was plus or minus 6 percentage points.

Filed under: Religion
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Another Day in the Idiot Mines

    A reaction the phony "christian" taliban and their theocratic leanings?

    March 21, 2012 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  2. roro

    What happened to the separation of church and state? That seems to come in handy when religious groups don't want to follow civilian laws, and want to continue their tax exempt status. But when it comes to personal rights and freedoms, they want to shove their religious beliefs down everyone's throat and into their bedrooms. You can't have it both ways. There is entirely too much talk about religion in the Republican primary, and not enough talk about what they're going to do to get us out of the mess they created.

    March 21, 2012 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  3. Jay

    Too Much Religion in Politics – AMEN!

    March 21, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  4. Russ

    Any religion in politics is too much religion. Unless everyone in this country was of one belief, one religion, one God, and cringe at even saying that, then no religion in politics. It's that simple. Religion belongs in your church or your home, not in my public domain. What about the growing number of non-believers, you know the ones that come out of college according to Santorum. Why should we have to bow to any religious leaders belief. The Government is to make laws of the land from a non bias, not partisan, not relgious stand point. No law should be made based on religion.

    March 21, 2012 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |

    Here's a suggestion. Take all of the holy books, place them on the steps of Congress, and burn them! KEEP RELIGION OUT OF POLITICS!!!

    March 21, 2012 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  6. paul

    What position would Rick Santorum run for if they eliminated the religion? It has been said that he is not running for president of the US but running for Preacher of the US. Most of his campaign rhetoric would have to be tossed if they eliminated religion.

    March 21, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  7. d

    relgion does not belong in local state or federal politics!

    March 21, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    every time the democracts have a rally its always in a church you never see the republicans rally in church

    March 21, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  9. Squealy

    FINALLY! This is good news. My faith in people is starting to get restored. A little.

    March 21, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  10. Jules

    As a proud member of the Christian Left I can only say Thank You, God for the fact that more Americans think that religion has too much say in politics. I like the idea that our president is a person of faith, because I think it guides them morally, but a person's faith or lack thereof, should not determine whether someone is fit to run for elected office.

    March 21, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  11. The Real Tom Paine

    Nawww, the GOP rally in churches all the time: its where they get their marching orders to bomb abortion clinics.

    March 21, 2012 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  12. diridi

    Nonsense Religion in Politics....o.k, These two will never blend in. They are totally different. If GOP idiots do not understand, it is their "Karma".

    March 21, 2012 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  13. Tony in Boston


    March 21, 2012 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  14. PJ/TX

    It's one thing to say you are a Christian, or not. It's another thing to judge others as to their beliefs, or to
    use those beliefs in a political campaign. infringing on freedoms of others by invading the most private
    part of their lives by demanding things they have no right to demand. They say the most
    hurtful things about their opponents in order to gain votes. This is not Christianity, this showing their
    inability to live up to their own demands that they make on others and that they have nothing else to
    offer that would help all peoples, not just the "chosen few".

    March 21, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  15. MAC

    Politics needs to stop getting into religion.

    March 21, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  16. An American Buddhist

    Democracy is NOT spelled t-h-e-o-c-r-a-c-y. "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's ..." Evangelical Christian Talibaners ignore this way too often. Plus, the US is multi-religious and multicultural–not only of, by and for one.

    March 21, 2012 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  17. Thomas

    In God We Trust .

    Money / Religion and Politics.

    Jesus Died For Somebody's Sins But Not Mine .

    March 21, 2012 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |