Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World

Public Sees Religion’s Influence Waning

Growing Appetite for Religion in Politics

Rising Number Say Religion Losing Influence
Growing Support for Religion in Politics

The findings reflect a widening divide between religiously affiliated Americans and the rising share of the population that is not affiliated with any religion (sometimes called the “nones”). The public’s appetite for religious influence in politics is increasing in part because those who continue to identify with a religion (e.g., Protestants, Catholics and others) have become significantly more supportive of churches and other houses of worship speaking out about political issues and political leaders talking more often about religion. The “nones” are much more likely to oppose the intermingling of religion and politics.

Increasing Appetite for Religion in Public Life Among Republicans, Religiously Affiliated
Trend in Support for Same-Sex Marriage

These are among the key findings from a new survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted Sept. 2-9 among 2,002 U.S. adults. The survey tracks public attitudes about religion in public life, maps the contours of the religious elements of the political landscape heading into the 2014 midterm elections and monitors trends on important social issues.

Should Wedding-Related Businesses Be Required to Provide Services to Same-Sex Couples?

Heading into the 2014 elections, recent Pew Research polls find a great deal of stability in the partisan preferences of religious groups. For example, large majorities of black Protestants, Jews and religiously unaffiliated voters continue to identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party. At the other end of the spectrum, white evangelical Protestant voters continue to be staunchly supportive of the GOP. Nearly three-quarters of white evangelicals identify with or lean toward the Republican Party, and a similar share say they would vote for the Republican congressional candidate in their district. 

How Republicans and Democrats Rate Their Party on Key Issues

Among the report’s other key findings:

  • A larger share of the general public sees the Republican Party as friendly toward religion (47%) than sees the Democratic Party that way (29%).
  • A declining share of Americans see the Obama administration as friendly toward religion; 30% now say the Obama administration is friendly toward religion, down 7 points since 2009.
  • About six-in-ten Americans say it is important for members of Congress to have strong religious beliefs (59%), a figure that has not changed significantly since the most recent midterm campaign in 2010.
  • Roughly two-thirds of U.S. adults (65%) think gays and lesbians face a lot of discrimination in the U.S. today, and half or more say the same about Hispanics (50%), blacks (54%) and Muslims (59%). Fewer think that Jews (32%), evangelical Christians (31%), atheists (27%) and Catholics (19%) face a lot of discrimination today.
  • About a third of evangelical Christians (34%), including 42% of white evangelical Protestants, and one-in-five Catholics (18%) say it has become more difficult to be a member of their religious group in recent years. Roughly one-in-ten religious “nones” (8%) say it has become harder to be a person with no religion in the U.S. in recent years, while 31% say it has become easier. About half or more in each of these groups say the ease or difficulty of being a member of their group hasn’t changed much either way.
Icon for promotion number 1

Sign up for our weekly newsletter

Fresh data delivery Saturday mornings

Icon for promotion number 1

Sign up for The Briefing

Weekly updates on the world of news & information