New Poll Reveals Fewer Americans View Democrats as Religion-Friendly

The American public perceives a wider gap between the Democrats and Republicans in regards to their image with religion since the 2004 presidential election.

A recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press revealed a sharp drop in the number of Americans who perceive the Democratic Party as friendly toward religion. Down from 42 percent in 2003 and 40 percent last August, only 29 percent see the party as friendly to religion now.

Republicans continue to hold a solid majority of 55 percent with little change over the past couple of years.

The Democratic National Committee has initiated efforts to take stronger hold with religious voters after faring poorly with them in the 2004 election.

With efforts to boost up religious outreach, the DNC named former Vermont Governor Howard Dean as chairman of the committee earlier this year to reach out to evangelical Christians and people of all faiths.

A wide margin between the two parties is also seen when it comes to their concerns with the values of the public. While 51 percent of Americans see the Republicans as most concerned with protecting religious rights, 28 percent perceive the same with the Democrats. More than half view the Democratic Party as most concerned with protecting the freedom of citizens to make personal choices.

In fact, young people (58 percent) and women (56 percent) more often credit the Democrats for protecting personal freedoms than do older people (39 percent) and men (47 percent).

The survey further revealed a divide among Americans over whether Christians have gone too far in trying to impose their religious values on the country. Results showed an equal split with 45 percent saying yes and 45 saying no.

Within the parties themselves, 83 percent of liberal Democrats say yes to Christians going too far in comparison to 47 percent of liberal Republicans. Another 46 percent of the more conservative Democrats say yes while just 16 percent of right winged Republicans agree.

In terms of church involvement in political matters, the public has not budged in their outlook. The survey found that 51 percent favored church involvement while 44 percent opposed.

The national poll on religious and political differences surveyed 2,000 adults July 7-17.

The Pew Research Center is an independent opinion research group that studies attitudes toward the press, politics and public policy issues. It is best known for regular national surveys that measure public attentiveness to major news stories, and for our polling that charts trends in values and fundamental political and social attitudes. The Center's purpose is to serve as a forum for ideas on the media and public policy through public opinion research.