Public Views of the Divide between Religion and Politics

Feb 27, 2012

Recent comments by presidential candidate Rick Santorum have brought renewed attention to the role of religion in politics. In both 2010 and 2008, narrow majorities said that churches and other houses of worship should keep out of political matters rather than express their views on social and political questions, according to polls by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

That represented a change from earlier in the 2000s and the 1990s, when more Americans supported churches and other houses of worship speaking out on political matters. However, opinions in 201o were nearly identical to those in a 1968 Gallup survey, when 53% said churches should keep out of political matters.

While support for churches’ involvement in politics has fluctuated, there has been consistent agreement over the years that houses of worship should not directly endorse political candidates. In 2010, 70% said churches and other houses of worship should not come out in favor of one candidate over another; just 24% say they should. These opinions have changed little over the past decade.

Read the full report, Public Views of the Divide between Religion and Politics, on the Pew Rsearch Center for the People & the Press' Web site.

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