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Majority of US Adults Want Religion to Stay Out of Politics

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More than three-quarters (76%) of U.S. adults say that houses of faith should not support political candidates, according to a Pew Research Center report published Nov. 15.

Such endorsements are prohibited by 501(c)(3) entities, including houses of faith, by legislation that is commonly referred to as the “Johnson Amendment.”

BJC (formerly known as Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty) has a number of free resources explaining the amendment.

A smaller majority (63%) affirmed that houses of faith “should keep out of political matters,” while just over one-third (37%) felt that houses of faith “have too much influence in politics.”

While U.S. adults disapprove of religious entanglement with politics, their sentiments regarding religion’s influence on society are generally positive, the report found.

A majority (55%) said “churches and religious organizations do more good than harm in American society,” while 53% said they “strengthen morality in society” and 50% that they “mostly bring people together.”

When asked about religious influence in the U.S., 78% of respondents perceived a lessening influence and 42% saw this as a negative trend.

Republicans were significantly more likely than Democrats to affirm these positions.

For example, 71% of Republican respondents felt that religion does more good than harm compared to 44% of Democrats, and 68% of Republicans said religion strengthens morality in society compared to 41% of Democrats.

Overall, respondents had positive marks for U.S. clergy, with 65% saying that religious leaders “have high / very high ethical standards,” while 78% of those who attend services a few times a year held this view.

When respondents who attend religious services at least a few times a year were asked about the political views of their clergy, 45% were unsure about their political affiliation, and 72% said “the sermons at their place of worship have about the right amount of discussion of politics.”

The full report is available here. The topline results are available here.