44 Percent of Liberal Democrats Say Churches Bad for America: Pew

(Photo: Reuters/Yuri Gripas)U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at the Foundry United Methodist Church's bicentennial service in Washington, September 13, 2015.

Democrats are more likely than Republicans to believe that churches have a negative impact on American society, according to a recent report by Pew Research Center.

In a report released Monday by Pew's U.S. Politics & Policy department, 36 percent of Democrats were found to view churches' impact on society as negative, contrasted with 14 percent of Republicans.

Among Liberal Democrats, the percentage that view churches in a negative light jumps to 44 percent, with 40 percent of Liberal Democrats and 50 percent of overall Democrats viewing churches as positively impacting society.

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"Liberal Democrats are about as likely to say the impact of churches and religious organizations is negative (44%) as they are to say it is positive (40%). By two-to-one (58% to 29%), more conservative and moderate Democrats say churches have a positive than negative effect on the country," noted Pew.

"Majorities of both conservative Republicans and Republican leaners (75%) and moderate and liberal Republicans (68%) say churches and religious organizations have a positive impact."

Pew also found that 46 percent of those unaffiliated with any religion and 43 percent of those who seldom or never attend religious services believe churches and religious groups have a negative impact on society. 

For their report, Pew did a national survey from June 8-18 in which they interviewed 2,504 adults. Their survey also found that 85 percent of Republicans believed that the national news media had a negative impact on society, versus 46 percent of Democrats who believed the same. The margin of error is 2.3 percentage points for the full sample. 

"On balance, more liberal Democrats say the national news media has a positive (51%) than negative (39%) impact on the country. Opinion among conservative and moderate Democrats is the reverse (39% positive, 51% negative)," continued Pew.

"Among Republicans, negative views of the news media are shared by large majorities of both conservative Republicans (87%) and moderate and liberal Republicans (80%)."

For the past several years, many pundits and political experts have accused the Democratic Party of having a "God problem," or being too secular in their tone and views on religion.

Pew's survey showing 36 percent of Democrats viewing churches as having a negative impact on society comes a month after former Democratic presidential hopeful and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders attacked a Trump Administration appointee over his Christian views.

During a Senate Budget Committee nomination hearing last month, Sen. Sanders critically questioned Russell Vought, Trump's nominee for deputy director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, saying that he would vote against the appointee due to a blog post in which Vought said Muslims "stand condemned" for not believing in Jesus.

"This is why Democrats lost in 2016. It's why we didn't deserve to win on our own merits in 2016," commented former Obama Administration official Michael Wear on Facebook.

"And it's why we're on track to lose again in 2018. I remember when Democratic leadership used to speak out against using religion as a weapon."

During the 2012 presidential campaign season, Democrats garnered controversy over not including a reference to God in their party platform and then awkwardly adding in a reference through a tense voice vote.

"After they took heat for omitting any reference to 'God' in their platform, and for eliminating language from the 2008 platform that identified Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Democrats tried to add the language back into their party platform with a voice vote," reported the Huffington Post in 2012.

"But when Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the convention chairman, came to the podium to ask for the approval of the delegates, those who shouted opposition to the language change were as loud, if not louder, than those who voiced their support."

Others have come to the Democratic Party's defense, with one New Republic pointing out that the same 2012 convention had plenty of overtly Christian expression on the main stage and in the platform.

"The Democratic National Convention opens and closes each day's session with prayers, just like the Republican National Convention did," noted the column.

"The 2012 Democratic platform has a separate section on 'Faith' that includes the lines, 'We know that our nation, our communities, and our lives are made vastly stronger and richer by faith and the countless acts of justice and mercy it inspires.'"

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