- (Photo: REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi)
A recently released poll found that most respondents are either comfortable with candidate Mitt Romney's Mormon faith or do not consider it an issue.
In findings released on Thursday by Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, 60 percent of respondents who knew that Romney was Mormon were comfortable with this fact, and 21 percent did not believe it mattered.
The Pew Forum poll was conducted from June 28 to July 9, and had a sample of 2,973 adults, of whom 2,373 were registered voters.
Since entering the presidential race, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has had to answer many questions as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Some people believed that Evangelical Christians, who make up an important bloc of the GOP voting electorate, would not vote for a Mormon candidate. Last December in South Carolina, the Rev. Brad Atkins, president of the South Carolina Baptist Convention, told local media that Romney's Mormon faith was a greater concern than then GOP opponent Newt Gingrich's history of marital infidelity.
Atkins also said that while conservatives can "pray their way through the issue of forgiveness toward a Christian," they "will struggle to understand how anyone could be a Mormon and call themselves 'Christian.'"
However, as the primaries continued and Romney became the definitive frontrunner, evangelical voters began to warm up to him.
Pat Robertson, host of CBN's "700 Club," endorsed Romney in April, saying that "He's not running for Chief Rabbi or Chief American Pastor. He's running for Chief Executive, and he's a skilled lawyer, he's a skilled businessman. And that's what we need."
While the Pew Forum poll showed favorable results for Romney regarding religious matters, it also revealed a growing religious identification problem for President Obama.
According to the poll, only 49 percent of respondents believed that President Obama was Christian, which is six percentage points fewer than those surveyed by Pew in October 2008.
What is more, 17 percent of respondents said they believed the president is Muslim, up five points from the October 2008 polling. Nearly a third of respondents said they did not know the religious beliefs of the U.S. president.
Among all respondents, however, slightly more people were comfortable with President Obama's faith than Romney's, with 45 percent of respondents saying they are comfortable with Obama's faith versus 41 percent for Romney. This number included those who did not know the religious faith of the presidential candidates.