Tuesday, February 1, 2005

Public Agenda Alert - Religious Americans Less Likely to Support Compromise

Survey Shows Religious Americans Less Likely to Support Compromise
* Religion and Public Life, 2000-2004:
This new survey, a follow-up to Public Agenda's "For Goodness'Sake,"
compares how Americans' views of religion in public
life have changed since 2000. The survey found a
smaller number of Americans who believe that deeply
religious elected officials sometimes have to
compromise in the political arena (although slim
majorities still do). There are major decreases
among those who say they attend religious services weekly.
In 2000, 84 percent of Americans overall
said "even elected officials who are deeply religious
sometimes have to make compromises and set their convictions
aside to get results while in government." In 2004,
that number had dropped to 74 percent, with even sharper
drops among those who attend services weekly
(82 percent in 2000 vs. 63 percent in 2004) and
evangelicals (79 percent in 2000 vs. 63 percent in 2004).
On abortion, gay rights and the death penalty, the majority
of Americans who attend services weekly now say that
deeply religious politicians should stick to their own
religious beliefs rather than be willing to compromise.
Remaining unchanged since 2000 is Americans' belief that
the U.S. political system can handle greater interaction
between religion and politics. The survey asked Americans
whether the system would be threatened if religious leaders
and groups got a lot more involved in politics. About six
in 10 (63 percent in 2000 and 61 percent in 2004) believed
that the political system could "easily handle" this. A
third of Americans, however, continue to believe the political
system would be threatened.
Not surprisingly, Americans who say they are non-religious and those
who never attend services are far more likely to say the
political system would be threatened by religious leaders
and groups getting a lot more involved. But from 2000 to 2004,
there was a significant six-point increase in the number of Americans
who think it is "negative" for religious leaders to take public
positions on legislation and to encourage congregations to
adopt certain points of view.
To find out more, download free copies of the press release and
survey questionnaire at:
You can also take selected survey questions and compare your views
to the national sample in our "What Would You Say" feature.

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