A new poll by the Pew Research Center finds that most Americans see religion as a positive force in society–but they want it out of politics.
Most of those surveyed say religion is playing less of a role in American life and a majority say religion in the political realm is a “negative development.”
A solid majority–63 percent–say churches and other houses of worship should keep out of political matters while an even larger majority–76 percent–say that churches should not come out in favor of one candidate over another during election season.
More than a third of those surveyed–37 percent–said churches and other places of worship currently have too much influence in politics while 28 percent say they have too little political influence and 34 percent think the current level of religious influence on politics is about right.
Republicans and Democrats have very different views about religion’s impact on public life. For Republicans, 44 percent say religion has about the right amount of influence and 38 percent think it does not have enough in the political sphere.
A majority of Democrats–54 percent–think that religion has too much influence in politics. According to the poll, 25 percent of Democrats think that the declining role of religion is a good thing. Black Democrats feel more positive about religion than other members of their party. Two-thirds of white Democrats–66 percent–think churches have too much political power while only 30 percent of black Democrats and 40 percent of Hispanic Democrats think that. The poll also shows that black Democrats are just as likely as white Republicans to say churches do not have enough influence in politics as 37 percent of black Democrats.
The poll of 6,364 Americans was taken from March 18 to April 1 and was released in the middle of last month. The poll had a margin of error of +/- 1.7 percent.
Reach Ed Dean at firstname.lastname@example.org.