Religion in Public Affairs — Americans Think Religious Influence Is Waning

Staffers at Pew Research Center presented finding of ther9-22-2014 poll on religion and politics at the annual Religion Newswriters Association conference.

Staffers at Pew Research Center presented findings of a poll on religion and politics at the Religion Newswriters Association conference in Decatur, Georgia. Photo by Barbara Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

A report  on religion in public affairs from the Pew Research Center  reveals that many Americans believe religion is losing its influence in American life.

According to a Pew poll released today, 72 percent of Americans feel that religion’s influence on American life is waning. And most Americans – 56 percent — see that waning influence as a negative.

Despite that drop in influence, more and more Americans believe that religion has a place in politics. An increasing number believe that it’s OK for churches to express political views – 49 percent in 2014 compared to 43 percent in 2010.

White evangelicals in particular favor churches speaking out on political matters — sixty-six percent of white evangelicals today, compared to 56 percent in 2010.

Still, most Americans – 63 percent – oppose churches endorsing a particular candidate (that figure is down from 70 percent in 2010).

As for religion in public affairs, 41 percent of pollees said political leaders have been talking too little about faith and prayer.

A large majority of Americans think gays and lesbians, and Muslims experience discrimination in the U.S. – 65 percent believe gays and lesbians experience discrimination, 59 percent see Muslims as experiencing discrimination.

Half (50 percent) of the American public considers homosexuality a sin – up from 45 percent a year ago. But 52 percent of Americans support same-sex marriage in 2014, compared to 35 percent in 2001

Nonetheless, 47 percent of US adults believe that businesses that supply services to weddings – caterers, flowers – should be allowed to refuse services to same-sex couples for religious reasons. Forty-nine percent believe that businesses should be required to provide services.

To see the Pew report on religion in public affairs  for yourself, go to : http://www.pewforum.org/2014/09/22/public-sees-religions-influence-waning

 

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