09/17/2010 - Many Americans continue to say their religious beliefs have been highly influential in shaping their views about social issues, including abortion and same-sex marriage. But far fewer cite religion as a top influence on their opinions about several other social and political issues, including how the government should deal with immigration, the environment and poverty.
Despite the fact that many religious leaders have been outspoken advocates for immigration reform, just 7% of adults who take a position on immigration say that religion is the most important influence on their views on this issue. About one-in-four churchgoers (24%) say the clergy at their places of worship have spoken out about immigration, nearly the same as in 2006. About half of those who hear about immigration in church say their clergy are favorable to immigrants and immigration, but nearly one-quarter are hearing anti-immigration messages.
In contrast with the issue of immigration, 35% say religion is the top influence on their thinking about same-sex marriage, including fully 60% among those who oppose allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally. More than four-in-ten (44%) hear clergy speak out about homosexuality in church, with the overwhelming majority hearing negative messages about homosexuality. On the issue of abortion, 26% overall say religion is the most important influence on their opinion, including 45% among abortion opponents.
Read the complete findings Few Say Religion Shapes Immigration, Environment Views on the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life Web site.