voters continue to say it is important for a president to have strong religious
beliefs. But voters have limited awareness of the religious faiths of both Mitt
Romney and Barack Obama. And there is little evidence to suggest that concerns
about the candidates’ respective faiths will have a meaningful impact in the
latest national survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion &
Public Life and the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press,
conducted June 28-July 9, 2012, among 2,973 adults, including 2,373 registered
voters, finds that 60% of voters are aware that Romney is Mormon, virtually
unchanged from four months ago, during the GOP primaries.
vast majority of those who are aware of Romney’s faith say it doesn’t concern
them. Fully eight-in-ten voters who know Romney is Mormon say they are either
comfortable with his faith (60%) or that it doesn’t matter to them (21%).
religious lines, white evangelical Protestants and black Protestants, on the
one hand, and atheists and agnostics on the other, are the most likely to say
they are uncomfortable with Romney’s faith. Yet unease with Romney’s religion
has little impact on voting preferences. Republicans and white evangelicals overwhelmingly
back Romney irrespective of their views of his faith, and Democrats and
seculars overwhelmingly oppose him regardless of their impression.
with Romney’s faith, however, is related to the enthusiasm of Republican
support for his candidacy. Among Republican and Republican-leaning voters who
say they are comfortable with Romney being Mormon, 44% back him strongly. Among
those who are uncomfortable with it, just 21% say they back him strongly.
separate Pew Research survey, released July 24, found that voters have little
interest in learning more about Romney’s religious beliefs. Just 16% said they
wanted to hear more about Romney’s religious beliefs. Far more wanted to hear
more about Romney’s record as governor (41%), his federal income tax returns
(36%) and his record as chief executive of Bain Capital (35%). (For more see “Most Say They Already Know Enough about the Candidates”, July 24, 2012.)
new survey on religion and politics finds that nearly four years into his
presidency the view that Barack Obama is Muslim persists. Currently, 17% of
registered voters say that Obama is Muslim; 49% say he is Christian, while 31%
say they do not know Obama’s religion.
percentage of voters identifying Obama’s religion as Christian has increased
since August 2010, from 38% to 49%, while there has been little change in the percentage saying he is Muslim (19% then, 17% today). Still, fewer say Obama is
Christian – and more say he is Muslim – than did so in October 2008, near the
end of the last presidential campaign. The increase since 2008 is particularly
concentrated among conservative Republicans, about a third of whom (34%)
describe the president as a Muslim.
45% of voters say they are comfortable with Obama’s religion, while 19% are
uncomfortable. Among those who say Obama is Christian, 82% are
comfortable with Obama’s religious beliefs. Among those who describe him as a Muslim, just 26% are comfortable with his beliefs.
survey also finds continued public ambivalence about the role of religion in
politics. Fully 67% agree “It’s important to me that a president have strong
religious beliefs,” an opinion that has changed little over the past decade.
And more than half say they are comfortable with politicians expressing their
the public remains opposed to churches explicitly endorsing political
candidates, with two-thirds saying churches and other houses of worship should
not come out in favor of political candidates. And a Pew Research Center survey
March found that concern about too much church
involvement in political matters has been on the rise over the past decade.
The new survey also finds
that 66% of the public says that religion is losing its influence on American
life. That is little changed from 2010, but among the highest percentages
saying religion is losing its influence since the question was first asked in a
Gallup poll in 1957. A small but growing share of Americans say it is good that
religion’s influence is declining: Currently, 12% say this, up from 6% in 2006.
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