Conservatives Wary Of Church-Based Politicking, New Opinion Poll Shows

A solid majority of Americans believes houses of worship should stay out of partisan politics – a view that is increasingly being adopted by conservatives, a new poll shows.

The poll, conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, found 66 percent of respondents saying churches should not endorse one candidate over another, and 29 percent saying churches should.

Self-identified Republicans are increasingly coming out against pulpit politicking. Sixty-four percent say they oppose it, an increase of 11 points since 2004.

The poll, announced in August, found that Americans from various religious backgrounds oppose church-based politicking.

Mainline Protestants were the most opposed to pulpit endorsements. Seventy-three percent expressed opposition, with 23 percent supporting it. Among Roman Catholics, the figures were 67 percent opposed and 30 percent for.

While no group showed a majority favoring it, opposition was weakest among black Protestants, with 36 percent supporting the practice and 55 percent opposing it.

Pew asked respondents, “During political elections, should churches and other houses of worship come out in favor of one candidate over another, or shouldn’t they do this?”

In other findings, more Americans are becoming wary of political candidates who talk about their faith. While 50 percent say they are not bothered by the practice, the percentage saying they are has risen to 46 percent – a six-point jump since 2004.

However, Americans believe the president should have strong religious beliefs. Seventy-two percent said this is important, while 25 percent said it is not.