Pew: 40% of Americans Now Say Political Leaders Spend ‘Too Little’ Time Discussing Religion

Jose R. Gonzalez | February 2, 2016 | 2:49pm EST
Font Size
President Obama at the Natioanl Prayer Breakfast in Washington on Feb. 5, 2015. (AP photo)


( -- Compared to popular opinion during the last presidential election, a Pew Research Center survey finds that 40 percent of Americans now think their political leaders don’t talk about religion enough, up 10 percent since 2012.

“Currently, 27% of Americans say there has been too much discussion of religious faith and prayer by political leaders, while 40% say there has been too little religious discussion," according to the results from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life’s “Faith and the 2016 Campaign” survey released January 27.

“At a similar point in the 2012 presidential campaign, the balance of opinion on this question leaned in the opposite direction – 38% thought there was too much religious discussion occurring, and 30% thought there was too little,” the “Religion in Public Life” section of the survey states.  

The increase in longing for more religious talk from politicians crosses party lines. Both Republicans and Democrats increasingly think there is “too little” religious discussion from political leaders.

Fifty-three percent of Republicans and those who lean Republican said politicians discuss religion “too little.” This is up from 39 percent who said the same thing in 2012.

That same year, “far more Democrats said there was too much religious talk by politicians (48%) than said there was too little (24%),” Pew reports.

But Democrats are now more evenly divided on this question: “31% say there has been too little discussion of religion by political leaders, and 37% say there has been too much,” according to the survey.

As a whole, those identifying as Democrat or Democrat leaning conveyed some ambivalence in respect to their party’s attitude towards religion.“Democrats are evenly split about whether their own party is friendly (46%) or neutral (46%) toward religion,” the survey  notes.

Sixty-eight percent of Americans also say religion’s influence in American life has declined, with 51 percent viewing this perceived shift negatively and only 13 percent thinking it is a good thing.

Americans across all faith identifiers, including those religiously unaffiliated, expressed this sentiment at a higher percentage now than four years ago.

Even religious ‘nones’ have become less likely to say there is too much religious discussion by political leaders,” the survey points out.

Although "about half of Americans say it is important to them that a president shares their religous beliefs," the Pew Research Center reported that the share of Americans who think President Barack Obama is not religious has “increased markedly” since August 2007.

“Roughly one-third of Americans now say that Obama is not too or not at all religious, up from 9% in 2007. Over this period, the share expressing no opinion of Obama’s religiousness declined from 40% to 6%,” the survey added.

The total sample survey of 2,009 respondents, which was conducted via telephone from January 7-14, had a margin of error of plus or minus two-and-a -half percentage points

mrc merch