Public Agenda Poll on Religion and American Public Life

The survey research organization Public Agenda has released an interesting report on “Religion and Public Life, 2000-2004.” The survey, conducted during last year’s election campaign, found that the public was more greatly in favor of elected officials voting on the basis of their religious principles, than they were four years previously. In the words of the accompanying press release,

“‘Compromise has a long and important history in American politics,’ said Ruth A. Wooden, President of Public Agenda. ‘But in 2004, there were more Americans who wanted elected officials to keep their religious principles in mind when they vote on issues like abortion and gay rights. We found double-digit decreases in support for compromise on these issues among those who attend services weekly and among Catholics. The changes are really quite dramatic.'”

The study as a whole, however, is not nearly so dramatic. It suggests that a significantly greater proportion of Americans overall support the notion that elected officials should not compromise their religious beliefs when voting on issues such as abortion, gay rights, and the death penalty than did so four years before, and that more Americans think that it is good for others to “spread the word of God” publicly rather than be expected to keep their beliefs private. Though not earthshaking, the report makes sense and is highly informative and well worth reading.

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2 thoughts on “Public Agenda Poll on Religion and American Public Life

  1. Interesting data. The sample set is fairly small (1500).

    Assuming the sampling is sufficient then the data suggests that the extremists are getting more extreme (the large difference in all christians vs the evangelicals and those who attend church once a week on issues of compromise and religious decision making). Not shocking news but somewhat disheartening to see in black and white.

    Isn’t culture war grand?

  2. As the great Yehuda Levin has said in many speeches at pro-life functions: “The problem is that on the Right bot the religious leaders and the politicians act like politicians, but on the Left bot religious leaders and politicians act like religious people.” In other words, the Left risks elections for their principles and the Right does not.

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