Survey: Americans Think Politicians Are Talking Too Much About Religion

In an election campaign season in which issues such as birth control and gay marriage have made headlines, a growing number of Americans think political leaders are talking too much religion, according to a new national survey.

The survey released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life finds signs of uneasiness over the mixing of religion and politics.

Nearly four in 10 Americans (38 percent) say there has been too much expression of religious faith and prayer from political leaders -- an all-time high since the Pew Research Center began asking the question more than a decade ago. Thirty percent say there has been too little.

Most Americans (54 percent) continue to say that churches and other houses of worship should keep out of politics. It’s the third consecutive poll conducted over the past four years in which more people have said churches and other houses of worship should keep out of politics than said they should express their views on social and political topics, according to Pew. That's also an about-face from 2006, when 51 percent of Americans believed churches should speak out and 46 percent said they should keep quiet.

The view that there is too much expression of religious faith by politicians remains far more widespread among Democrats than Republicans, and there are also divisions within the GOP primary electorate.

Fifty-seven percent of Republican and Republican-leaning voters who favor Mitt Romney (a Mormon) for the presidential nomination say churches should keep out of political matters. By contrast, 60 percent of GOP voters who support Rick Santorum (a devout Catholic) say that churches and other houses of worship should express their views on social and political questions.

And while more than half (55 percent) of Santorum’s supporters say there is too little expression of religious faith and prayer by political leaders, just one in four (24 percent) of Romney’s backers agree.

Santorum has worked hard on the campaign trail to court conservative Christian voters, and the former Pennsylvania senator has talked openly about the journey of his faith in visits to evangelical churches.

Kimberly Conger, a political science instructor at Colorado State University who has studied the intersection of religion and politics, says the latest Pew findings are not surprising.

“Religious people's opinions on the relationship between religion and politics seem to be driven by their political identity more than their religious one. These results bear that out,” she said by email to msnbc.com.

“Republicans are less likely to think there is too much religious talk by political leaders, and Republicans are hearing more such talk than Democrats. It is also unsurprising that there has been a slight uptick in the overall number of people uncomfortable with religious talk since the Republican primary has had some significant religious overtones.”

As to whether politicians should steer clear of religion on the campaign trail, Conger says it depends.

“It's clear from the breakdown of religious and political groups that Rick Santorum ought to keep talking about religion as long as he's fighting for the Republican nomination. But if he were to win the nomination, he'd have to start appealing to independents, a key voting group that's uncomfortable with candidates' religious talk,” she says.

“They key challenge in the general election will be for Republicans to broaden their appeal by toning down religious talk. But the data suggest that Democrats face a similar if less intense challenge in broadening their appeal by appearing more welcoming to religious beliefs. Both sides will have a fine line to walk.”


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  • by Wilson Location: NC on Mar 23, 2012 at 03:09 PM
    Rich and poor have this in common: The LORD is the Maker of them all. The Lord is the Maker of all. Both the rich and poor are in the order of God's providence and both are equally important in his sight. Merely considered as men , God loves the simple laborer as much as he does the king. Job 31:15 Did not he who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same one form us both within our mothers? Proverbs 14:31 He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God. Proverbs 29:13 The poor man and the rich man have this in common: The LORD gives sight to the eyes of both. Money is not an issue in the LORDS love of us all.
  • by Mary Location: NC on Mar 22, 2012 at 05:49 PM
    Do liberals not believe in God because it interferes with their belief that are a god? Conservatives believe man was created in God's image, while liberals believe they are gods. All of the behavioral acts of the liberals proceed from their godless belief that they can murder the unborn because they, the liberals, are themselves gods. They try to forcibly create "equality" through affirmative action and wealth redistribution. They flat-out lie, with no higher power to constrain them, because they want to play god
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Mar 22, 2012 at 07:00 PM in reply to Mary
      At least liberals are real. You know what's odd. Jesus was for the distribution of wealth, and basically believed that rich people were evil and incapable of being allowed into heaven. He'd also support universal health-care. He was also not an American. That's three things Republicans hate, so I guess not many Republicans are real Christians either, seeing as none really follow the teachings of Christ.
      • reply
        by Wolfgang on Mar 22, 2012 at 07:26 PM in reply to
        What ? - Anonymous on Mar 22, 2012 at 10:00 PM - Your quote " Jesus was for the distribution of wealth, and basically believed that rich people were evil and incapable of being allowed into heaven? " If this is true you make over $100,000.00 or maybe less then $1,000,000.00. You are not allowed into heaven? We need the correct $$$$$ money numbers to get into heaven Anonymous. LOL - This is your Obama voter! God help us! This is even more stupid then a Lavon post.
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Mar 23, 2012 at 06:47 AM in reply to Wolfgang
          Mark 10:21 — “Jesus looked at him and loved him. ‘One thing you lack,’ he said. ‘Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ Matthew 6:19-21 — “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 19:24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." So yeah, I'm completely right. As I always am. Jesus fully supported wealth distribution. It's also nearly impossible for the greedy and wealthy to get into Heaven. So yeah, I guess you actually do need a certain amount of money to enter Heaven, but it's a low number.
      • reply
        by Luke on Mar 22, 2012 at 08:24 PM in reply to
        To - Anonymous on Mar 22, 2012 at 10:00 PM. What happpens to the rich people who give their money to so many charities are they not allowed into heaven also?
      • reply
        by Donna on Mar 23, 2012 at 03:58 AM in reply to
        Can you please provide scriptures that states this with regards that He believed all rich to be evil and not allowed in heaven? I'm having a difficult time finding that one.
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Mar 23, 2012 at 06:49 AM in reply to Donna
          Matthew 19:24 "Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." Can't really get any more clear cut than that.
        • reply
          by Donna on Mar 23, 2012 at 10:08 AM in reply to Donna
          Thank you for providing the scripture. Now I will research and see what else the Bible has to say about this subject.
  • by M Location: USA on Mar 22, 2012 at 07:26 AM
    @Obama Snake Oil Co The ignorance is painful to read.
    • reply
      by Obama Snake Oil Co on Mar 22, 2012 at 09:30 AM in reply to M
      Thanks, it warms the heart!
    • reply
      by Donna on Mar 22, 2012 at 09:51 AM in reply to M
      I don't think OSO is ignorant at all. In many cases he backs up his comments with proof from survey's, news agencies and other sources. He is very passionate and is not afraid to speak his mind. Do I always agree? No but then again, I'm not supposed to.
      • reply
        by LOL on Mar 22, 2012 at 04:54 PM in reply to Donna
        (In many cases he backs up his comments with proof from survey's, news agencies and other sources) Donna, you were doing GOOD until you made that comment. Snake oil only post from far right wing sites, and his own imagination. LOL, LOL :)
        • reply
          by Bethoria on Mar 22, 2012 at 05:42 PM in reply to LOL
          My thoughts EXACTLY!!!
        • reply
          by Donna on Mar 23, 2012 at 03:56 AM in reply to LOL
          Then you obviously don't read his posts or automatically "assume" his references are bogus.I have actually gone to some of his links, etc. and found that his post is on the money with regards to the material he references. As stated earlier, he is extremely passionate obviously as are many others that comment on this forum. He, myself and everyone else is entitled to their own opinions. Does he make himself a target? Yes he does. But it just shows that he is not afraid to post. At least he takes the time to research unlike others on the forum. And that's just stating my opinion, of which, like you, I am entitled to.
        • reply
          by Obama Snake Oil Co on Mar 23, 2012 at 05:38 AM in reply to LOL
          Right wing? Does google now have D and R on stories? I guess when you cannot defend a posted fact you revert to name calling and playground rhetoric. You can attack me all you want, doesn't matter cause long after you are gone, I will still be posting at 60 words per minute. If you don't post the truth or facts, expect me to be there for you. If you supported the worst president in the history of this nation thus far, expect rebuttal. Oh, I get my news from Blaze, huffington post, mediamatters, fox, nbc, abc and the BBC. I would say that is pretty much every angle. What I read in posts here comes from leftest propaganda with no balance or truth to rely on. You post the story but only part of the story you want here. Donna, thanks! We need all the sanity we can get these days. Some of these posters have no clue to what is real. Like the stories on mediamatters, most all of which is made up, they believe it and run with it. I see it all the time. Proof that many amongst us are no more than sheep.
  • by Well... Location: usa on Mar 22, 2012 at 07:05 AM
    Elected officials put their hand on the bible and promised to uphold the constitution, NOT the other way around!! AND to do as the lobbyists/PACs tell them to do!!!
    • reply
      by Donna on Mar 22, 2012 at 09:49 AM in reply to Well...
      LOL! I was summoned as a witness earlier this week & I too placed my hand on the Bible, raised my right hand and swore to tell the truth. The Bible still lives in the court system regardless. And the last time I looked, the court system was a part of a government entity.
      • reply
        by To Donna on Mar 22, 2012 at 02:51 PM in reply to Donna
        You are wrong. People can refuse to use the Bible. Quakers can not swear-they "affirm". Freedom of religion exist in the court room too!
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Mar 22, 2012 at 07:02 PM in reply to Donna
        You don't have to swear on the Bible. It isn't law, you can refuse and you just give sword statement.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Mar 22, 2012 at 07:01 PM in reply to Well...
      Elected officials don't have to take that oath on a Bible, they can take it on any religious text, no religious text, or the constitution if they wanted to, which in my opinion is what they should do.
      • reply
        by Obama Snake Oil Co on Mar 23, 2012 at 05:39 AM in reply to
        Yes, the communists wanted it that way...
  • by The Facts on Mar 22, 2012 at 06:30 AM
    I think the headline it two words to long.
  • by Obama Snake Oil Co Location: Washington on Mar 22, 2012 at 05:50 AM
    If you want to understand why this is even a story from the AP, just watch an interview by any of the liberal networks. Listen to the questions they ask and the statements to go along with them. This is about womens rights? Nope, its about abortion, but the spin goes on. They, the media, want to make it about womens rights since it sounds more intense since "rights" are used in the working. Well consider, this is about paid murder by taxpayers not being the best of headlines....
    • reply
      by The Facts on Mar 22, 2012 at 06:22 AM in reply to Obama Snake Oil Co
      "Paid murder by taxpayers" - that would the electric chair in prisons. A legal medical procedure as defined by the supreme court is covered under MOST insurance policies. You know, the policies that people pay for out of thier own pockets.
  • by here Location: here on Mar 22, 2012 at 05:27 AM
    Religious people scare me. They believe in the make believe and then try to make others believe their make believe. Keep your religious nonsense to yourself. Please!
    • reply
      by Obama Snake Oil Co on Mar 22, 2012 at 05:43 AM in reply to here
      Sorry, we don't trust aethists....
      • reply
        by The Facts on Mar 22, 2012 at 06:25 AM in reply to Obama Snake Oil Co
        Which religion is the 'correct' one in your mind? They can't all be right...and that's why there should be NO religion in government. Government is for ALL the people, regardless of religion, or lack of religion.
        • reply
          by Donna on Mar 22, 2012 at 07:37 AM in reply to The Facts
          Religion is a personal choice. You choose to believe or you choose not to believe. It's called free will. You state the government is for "all" people? Well, that's how it is supposed to be. But from where I'm sitting, it appears that a good portion of the government is for themselves and not the people they are supposed to represent. Oh & before anyone comments, let me just put it out there that I am well educated, have a good job, have never been on any type of assistance, etc. I do not fault anyone who does receive assistance if there is a need especially for the elderly and handicapped. Nor do I judge anyone's faith in whatever religion they try to live by. As I said, it is their choice. Their freedom to do so. I expect the same in return. Do not judge me becaue I have a belief. My choice and none of anyone's business.And most morals, and values have some sort of religious basis. Laws have been written on religious basis. i.e. 10 commandments are an example. Thou shalt not kill. Well, it's religious based because it is in the Bible.If religion was totally excluded, there would be a total breakdown of society as we know it at some point. Separation of church and government was put into law in order to protect religious freedom. Not to totally exclude it.
        • reply
          by The Facts - reply to Donna on Mar 22, 2012 at 08:43 AM in reply to The Facts
          The The Code of Ur-Nammu is over 4000 years old - and it defines murder as a capital offense. I think mankind would have developed laws against murder even without religion. In general I agree with you though...our government has been corrupted from what it should be. I too have never been any kind of public assistance, I am a small business owner - and I also don't judge others for their beliefs nor do I want to be judged for mine. I also don't want someone else's forced upon me.
        • reply
          by Donna on Mar 22, 2012 at 09:47 AM in reply to The Facts
          Very well said with regards to your reply to me. Thank you. You may be correct with regards to believing that the laws against murder could have developed without religion. I will not argue that point but only to say that the Bible was written long before this country came into existance. Many of our laws were written by highly religious folks way before our time. And I wholeheartedly agree that I do not want someone else's beliefs forced on me. Your reference regarding "The Code of Ur-Nammu" is interesting and I will definitely research that. Again thank you.
      • reply
        by And... on Mar 22, 2012 at 10:29 AM in reply to Obama Snake Oil Co
        Sorry we don't trust people with tinfoil hats and secret underwear.
        • reply
          by Obama Snake Oil Co on Mar 22, 2012 at 01:18 PM in reply to And...
          I don't trust people like you; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5bOGB93rT4
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Mar 22, 2012 at 07:03 PM in reply to And...
          Again OSOC, that's probably because you're a delusional bigoted Bible-thumper.
      • reply
        by get a life on Mar 22, 2012 at 04:48 PM in reply to Obama Snake Oil Co
        I don't trust Clowns.
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Mar 22, 2012 at 07:02 PM in reply to Obama Snake Oil Co
        Well nobody ever said you were smart.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Mar 22, 2012 at 07:40 AM in reply to here
      I don't think any Christian tries to "make you" believe....you're thinking of the Muslims who will kill you if you don't convert.
      • reply
        by Obama Snake Oil Co on Mar 22, 2012 at 10:43 AM in reply to
        You know, they do it publically. Head choppin or stoning. So compassionate...
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Mar 23, 2012 at 06:50 AM in reply to
        Tell that to the Christians during the Inqusitions.
        • reply
          by Obama Snake Oil Co on Mar 23, 2012 at 09:41 AM in reply to
          Oh, so you left out the crusades? Twisting and turning....spinning and squeezing....anyway you can in your desperate times as a liberal. What really blows your story out is the facts. It was the first court system in the history of the world; In the 13th century, Pope Gregory IX (reigned 1227–1241) assigned the duty of carrying out inquisitions to the Dominican Order. They used inquisitorial procedures, a legal practice common at that time. They judged heresy alone, using the local authorities to establish a tribunal and to prosecute heretics. After the end of the twelfth century, a Grand Inquisitor headed each Inquisition. Grand Inquisitions persisted until the 19th century.[8] By the start of the 16th century the Catholic Church had reached an apparently dominant position as the established religious authority in western and central Europe dominating a faith-landscape in which Judaism, Waldensianism, Hussitism, Lollardry and the finally conquered Muslims al-Andalus (the Muslim-dominated Spain) hardly figured in terms of numbers or of influence. Wikipedia
  • by Anonymous on Mar 22, 2012 at 03:54 AM
    I think Anon is suggesting that liberals dressed up as the incompetent GOP candidates and it is them, not the Republican idiots, who have been calling press conferences and then going on and on about the irrelevant topic of their religions, restricting women's reproductive rights, and being sickened by watching a speech by JFK. Republicans are nuts.
    • reply
      by Donna on Mar 22, 2012 at 04:15 AM in reply to
      I am a former registered Democrat now registered as a Republican. I am certainly not nuts. Nor am I an idiot. I don't always agree with my party nor do I ever vote straight ticket. I think that both of the main parties have good points and bad ones as well. I use my common sense, I think about the issues and research before making decisions with regards to all candidates. I could care less about the amount of money they have, the color of their skin, etc. I care about how competent they are to run our country, their values & morals. I have not made a decision as to who I will vote for other than weeding out 1 or 2. But at the risk of inviting comments that don't make sense I will say that I do wish Colin Powell had threw his hat in the race. However, I think he's too smart to do that. Would he make a huge difference? I believe with all of my heart that he would bring truth, integrity, no nonsense, unification of the parties, honor & strength to the office of the President. I truly believe that the right person could do all of this and much more. I'm not seeing that right now with any of the candidates including the President.
      • reply
        by The Facts on Mar 22, 2012 at 06:29 AM in reply to Donna
        great post Donna, but you may want to register as 'unaffiliated'...Republican's aren't very fond of people who think on thier own.
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Mar 22, 2012 at 01:02 PM in reply to The Facts
          You're no better than what you claim to hate. Bigots are the only ones who paint with such a broad brush.
  • by Anonymous on Mar 22, 2012 at 03:48 AM
    If the government make abortion "illegal" That only means that criminals will be doing it, just like drugs today. Get those tax dollars ready to put in jail all those women having abortions, and those "practitioners"that will be doing them. Isn't it time already to understand that by making something "illegal"is not going to disappear? Look at drugs...I hope Nevada keeps abortion legal. Nevada will be an island to escape from the theocratic nation that the GOP is creating.
    • reply
      by Donna on Mar 22, 2012 at 04:03 AM in reply to
      While I don't believe in abortion I do believe in pro choice. However, I also believe there should be a "cut off time" if you will as to when an abortion cannot be done. I know there are laws out there already regarding this but I have not read them so I certainly will not try to speak about them.
  • by Anonymous on Mar 22, 2012 at 03:42 AM
    So it's okay for Obumer to spout off about NC's vote on banning gay marriages but "a poll" says these guys are spending too much time on religion. Quite frankly I think a lot of folks in this country could use a good sermon right now.......if our leaders would turn back to God for guidance this nation would again be blessed.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Mar 22, 2012 at 03:49 AM in reply to
      Obama is saying to much about religion? What bible toting network have you been watching?
      • reply
        by Donna on Mar 22, 2012 at 04:01 AM in reply to
        Obama has made a big deal out of the NC vote to ban gay marriages. What network have you been watching?
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