In U.S., a growing unease at mixing politics with prayer

March 22, 2012

(Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (C) receives a blessing from Pastor Dennis E. Terry, Sr. (L) after being interviewed by Family Research Council President Tony Perkins (R) at Greenwell Springs Baptist Church in Greenwell Springs, Louisiana March 18, 2012. REUTERS/Sean Gardner )

Americans are increasingly uneasy with the mingling of religion and politics, according to a poll released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center, in the midst of a campaign season punctuated by tussles over the role of faith in the public square.

Back in 2001, when Pew first asked the question, just 12 percent of Americans complained that their politicians talked too much about religion.

That number has risen steadily ever since and hit a record high in the new poll: 38 percent of Americans, including 24 percent of Republicans, now say their political leaders are overdoing it with their expressions of faith and prayer.

And more Americans than ever, 54 percent, believe churches should keep out of politics. That’s up from 43 percent in 1996, according to the Pew Research Center.

The national poll of 1,503 adults, which has a margin of error of 3 percentage points, was conducted in early March, as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops was ramping up its vigorous campaign against a new federal mandate requiring all insurance companies to provide free birth control.

Peter Steinfels, co-director of the Center on Religion and Culture at Fordham University in New York, said Americans have generally tolerated and even encouraged religious leaders to speak out on broad political issues, including capital punishment, immigration and poverty.

But they have long been uncomfortable with religious leaders directly involved in partisan campaigns, he said.

Read the full story by Stephanie Simon here.
Follow RTRFaithWorld via Twitter Follow all posts on Twitter @ RTRFaithWorld

rss button Follow all posts via RSS


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

Our American Constitution vigorously protects all religions by specifically leaving them alone.

All religions should have the grace and decency to return the favor.

God bless America and likewise.

Posted by roneida | Report as abusive

Yup….and every voter should be required to read the Marriage Vow signed by Santorum in Iowa.It contains “vows” to establish Christianity in our government and will raise the hair on your neck!

Posted by wrpa | Report as abusive

seperation of church and state is here for a reason

Posted by MetalHead8 | Report as abusive