According to a new Pew survey, American opinions about the importance and role of religion in politics have shifted. With midterms around the corner, religion is increasing in importance–not entirely unlike at Christmas and Easter. Below are three highlights of the Pew study, but there is plenty more where this comes from and which can be found at Pew.
1) Most Americans think religion is losing its influence
Almost three-quarters of Americans (72 percent) believe that religion is losing its influence on American life. According to Pew, this is up 5 points from 2010. According to Pew‘s full report:
As in previous surveys, most people who say religion is losing its influence in American life see this as a negative development, with 56% of the public as a whole saying it is a “bad thing” that religion is losing sway in the U.S. The concern is most pronounced among white evangelical Protestants, 77% of whom say religion is losing influence and that this is a bad thing, but is shared by majorities of white mainline Protestants (66%), black Protestants (65%) and Catholics (61%).
2) Almost half see the GOP as friendly toward religion
Roughly half of adults (47%) think the Republican Party is friendly toward religion, with 30% saying the GOP is neutral toward religion and 15% saying it is unfriendly toward religion. Far fewer (29%) see the Democratic Party as friendly toward religion, with 39% describing the Democratic Party as neutral toward religion and 25% describing it as unfriendly toward religion.
Public opinion on these questions has fluctuated over the years. But the GOP has consistently been rated as friendly toward religion by more people than has the Democratic Party.
3) Half of Americans see homosexuality as sinful
The number of people who view homosexual behavior as sinful has ticked up in the past year, from 45% in 2013 to 50% in the current poll. The view that homosexual behavior is sinful is most common among white evangelical Protestants (82%) and black Protestants (77%). By contrast, nearly three-quarters of religious “nones” (72%) say that homosexual behavior is not sinful. White mainline Protestants and Catholics are more evenly divided about whether homosexual behavior is sinful.
The current poll finds 49% of the public expressing support for same-sex marriage and 41% expressing opposition. Three-quarters of white evangelical Protestants oppose same-sex marriage. By contrast, three-quarters of the religiously unaffiliated support allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally. There is also more support than opposition to same-sex marriage among Catholics and white mainline Protestants