A new survey presented jointly by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life and the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press shows that while religion plays a more prominent role in American public life, sharp divisions of opinion exist around issues such as the separation of church and state. Most notably, while the public expresses strong support for the idea of faith-based groups receiving government funding to provide social services, it has many reservations about how that might be put into practice.
Melissa Rogers, Executive Director of the Pew Forum, said that in many ways, the survey reflects "a theoretical understanding put to a practical test." She noted that "there are several different matters that can move public opinion significantly on this issue." For example, levels of support vary depending on which religious communities would receive government funding to provide services, whether such groups may discriminate on the basis of religion in hiring and whether programs that receive government funding can encourage conversion as a part of treatment.
A wide variety of other findings are included in the survey on issues such as religion and politics, the way in which religion influences opinions on controversial political issues and the relationship between volunteerism and strong religious belief and practice. The survey of 2,041 adults was conducted March 5-18 by the Pew Research Center and is the first of what will be an annual survey on religion and public life presented by the Pew Forum.
The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life serves as a both a town hall and a clearinghouse of information, providing independent research, new polling information, balanced analysis, and referrals to experts in the field. In addition, the Pew Forum provides a place to draw together many perspectives for fruitful exchange of ideas. The Pew Forum is nonpartisan and does not take policy positions. It is supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts through a grant to Georgetown University.
For a copy of the survey report, a transcript of the event, or more information about the Pew Forum, please contact Robert Mills at 202.419.4564.
View the complete survey report.