Despite what you may have been hearing from the right, the majority of Americans don’t perceive President Obama as hostile toward religion. At least, that’s what a new poll from Pew Research suggests:
Opinions about whether the Obama administration is friendly toward religion have shifted modestly since 2009. Currently, 39% say the administration is friendly to religion, 32% say it is neutral and 23% say it is unfriendly. The balance of opinion was comparable in August 2009, although somewhat fewer (17%) said the administration was unfriendly to religion.
However, there has been a noticeable shift in opinions among white Catholics, perhaps reflecting effects from the controversy over the administration’s policies on contraception coverage. The percentage of white Catholics who say the administration is unfriendly to religion has nearly doubled — from 17% to 31% — since 2009.
There are some other interesting results, too — 54% believe the GOP is friendly to religion, and only 35% say that about the Democratic Party. But 51% also believe that religious conservatives have too much control over the GOP. Only 41% believe that secular liberals have too much control over the Democrats. Not only that, but 46% of Democrats, 42% of Independents, and even 24% of Republicans say they’re uncomfortable with the amount of current religious talk from politicians.
So even while the Republicans are perceived as defenders of religious values, about half of Americans think they’re a little too defensive – even a quarter of Republicans themselves. This is good news – it goes to show that the backlash against President Obama’s contraceptive policy is not widespread among most voters.
There’s a lot to this study – too much to break down in a single blog post. This study explores the theme of religion in politics in much more detail, comparing attitudes to past years, so you can see the changes over time. It’s fascinating stuff. You can find out more about Pew’s findings on their website.
Photo credit: photosteve101