Both parties have a religion problem, Pew survey reveals

By the numbers

October 09, 2005

Both major political parties have a problem with their approach toward religion, in the eyes of many Americans, a recent national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press shows.

More than 4 in 10 say that liberals who are not religious have too much control over the Democratic Party, while an almost identical percentage say that religious conservatives have too much influence over the Republican Party.

The public also has distinctly different perceptions of both parties when it comes to dealing with religion and personal freedoms.

The Republican Party is seen as most concerned with protecting religious values by a wide margin - 51 percent to 28 percent. By a nearly identical margin - 52 percent to 30 percent - the Democratic Party is perceived as most concerned with protecting the freedom of citizens to make personal choices.

Americans are closely divided over whether conservative Christians have gone too far in trying to impose their religious values on the country. About 45 percent say yes and an equal percentage say no.

But when broken down by education, region or party, answers to that question are varied. Some 60 percent of college graduates believe conservative Christians have gone too far, but only 35 percent of those with a high school degree or less share that view.

About 55 percent of Westerners say the conservative Christians have gone too far, but only 39 percent of those who live in the South agree. And, while 57 percent of Democrats worry about conservative Christians imposing their values on the country, only 26 percent of Republicans have that concern.

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