May 2012 Church & State | AU Bulletin

A new survey has found that a record number of Americans think there is too much religion in politics.

According to the Pew Forum On Religion & Public Life, 38 percent of poll respondents said politicians have spent too much time expressing their religious faith and praying. That’s up from 2010, when 29 percent of Americans took that viewpoint.

“The number saying there has been too much religious talk from political leaders,” the research agency said, “now stands at its highest point since the Pew Research Center began asking the question more than a decade ago.”

The survey, which was released March 21, even found that there has been an increase in this sentiment across party lines. The biggest spike came from people who identify as Democrats, 46 percent of whom said politicians talk too much about faith (up from 32 percent in 2010). Dissatisfaction is also growing among people who identify as Republicans, 24 percent of whom said candidates spend too much time on religion. In 2001, only 8 percent of Republicans had the same concern.

Among those who identify as Independent, a coveted demographic for both political parties, 42 percent said politicians talk too much about religion, a 6 percent increase from 2010. (In 2001, only 14 percent of Independents thought there was too much emphasis on religion.)

The Religious Right’s role in the Republican Party remains highly controversial. Fifty-one percent of poll respondents said religious conservatives have too much control over the GOP. Fifty-seven percent of Independents and 62 percent of Democrats take that perspective; 34 percent of Republicans agree.

“Candidates should be discussing the myriad problems facing this country, not how often they pray,” said AU Communications Associate Simon Brown, in a “Wall of Separation” blog post. “What people really want is a stable economy, more jobs and a better life for themselves and their families. Politicians who spend most of their time talking about how often they pray aren’t doing much to deliver any of those things.”