Faith-Based Programs Still Popular, Less Visible

  • November 16, 2009

More than eight years after former President George W. Bush unveiled his faith-based initiative to make it easier for religious groups to receive government funding to provide social services, the policy continues to draw broad public support. But as was the case when Bush first announced the initiative, many Americans express concerns about blurring the lines between church and state.

Currently, 69% of Americans say they favor allowing churches and other houses of worship, along with other organizations, to apply for government funding to provide social services such as job training or drug treatment counseling. Just 25% oppose allowing faith-based groups to seek government funding to help the needy.

Support is somewhat below the peak of 75% measured in March 2001 when Bush made the faith-based initiative a key piece of his early agenda. Notably, Republicans are less supportive of this program now than they were during the early months of the Bush administration. Currently, 66% of Republicans favor allowing houses of worship to seek government funding to provide social services, down from 81% in March 2001. By contrast, more Democrats favor this than did so in 2001 (77% now vs. 70% then).

As a result of these shifts, Democrats are now more supportive of this program than are Republicans, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, conducted Aug. 11-27 among 4,013 adults reached on both landlines and cell phones.

Read the full report Faith-Based Programs Still Popular, Less Visible on the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life's Web site.