August 24, 2010 // Uncategorized

New poll says religion losing influence on American life, government

WASHINGTON (CNS) — A new Pew Research Center poll on religion and public life showed that two-thirds of Americans think religion is losing its influence on American life.

The poll also showed that nearly one in five Americans think President Barack Obama is a Muslim.

The poll’s results, released Aug. 19, showed a mixed view about how churches should be involved in politics. A slim majority — 52 percent — said churches should keep out of political matters while 43 percent said they should express their views on day-to-day social and political issues.

The poll also showed that while people have reservations about churches’ involvement in politics, they feel strongly that politicians should be religious. Sixty-one percent of respondents agreed it was important that members of Congress have strong religious beliefs while 34 percent disagreed.

According to the poll data, fewer people today, compared to two years ago, find the Democratic and Republican parties friendly toward religion, although the Republican Party fared better.

The Democratic Party was seen as friendly to religion by 26 percent of those polled, while 43 percent said the Republican Party was friendly to religion — a 9 percentage-point drop for Republicans since 2008, and 12 points lower for Democrats.

The numbers also indicate a general rise in support for Republicans, showing that half of white non-Hispanic Catholics, plus three in 10 unaffiliated with a religion and a third of Jews, currently support the Republican Party.

Although the poll revealed confusion about Obama’s religion, respondents indicated they support how the president uses his religion to make decisions. Nearly half, or 48 percent, said he relied on his religion the right amount when making policy choices, while 21 percent said he used it too little and 11 percent too much.

Obama was a longtime member of an evangelical Christian church in Chicago, but since becoming president, he has not chosen a particular church in Washington to attend on a regular basis.

The poll, overseen by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, involved landline and cell phone interviews with 3,003 randomly chosen adults. It was conducted July 21-Aug. 5 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

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