Religious prejudice fades in politics, survey finds

July 03, 2006|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

BOSTON -- Most traditional barriers to religion in presidential elections have toppled, a new Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll has found. In particular, the survey to be released today showed that anti-Semitism and anti-Catholicism are fading as electoral concerns.

But uneasiness about some religions persists. Thirty-seven percent of those questioned said they would not vote for a Mormon presidential candidate - and 54 percent said no to the prospect of a Muslim in the White House.

In addition, 21 percent said they could not vote for an evangelical Christian. Only 15 percent replied that they would not vote for a Jewish presidential candidate. Just 10 percent of those polled were unwilling to cast ballots for a Catholic chief executive.

"This clearly shows that the old Protestant/Catholic/Jewish distinction has largely eroded in American politics," said David Campbell, a professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame. "That doesn't mean that candidates from religious groups that might be considered to be exotic, in the way that Catholics once were thought to be exotic, wouldn't necessarily be confronted with challenges."

The nationwide survey of 1,321 adults was conducted June 24-27. The poll has a margin of sampling error of 3 percentage points, poll director Susan Pinkus said.

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