'Christian Gap' Between Democrats, Republicans Widening, Research Shows

Ben Carson
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks at South Bethel Church in Tipton, Iowa, November 22, 2015. |

The "Christian Gap" between Democrats and Republicans is growing wider.

A recent analysis of data compiled by the Pew Research Center shows the Republican Party becoming more Christian as the Democratic Party becomes less Christian.

Ronald Brownstein of the National Journal wrote that "religious affiliation marks a sharpening point of distinction between Republicans and Democrats."

"Yet even as White Christians shrink in their overall numbers, they still account for nearly seven-in-10 Americans who identify with, or lean toward, the Republican Party," continued Brownstein.

"In sharp contrast … Most Americans who don't identify with any religious faith — a rapidly growing group — now align with Democrats."

Brownstein drew from Pew's 2014 U.S. Religious Landscape Study, which telephone interviewed over 35,000 Americans.

An annual poll that has been conducted since 2007, Pew has released findings from the Study in a series of reports over the year.

Earlier this month, Pew released a much covered finding that the United States as a whole is becoming less religious, as fewer people especially in the Millennial generation identify with any organized religion.

Hillary Clinton
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at the Foundry United Methodist Church's bicentennial service in Washington, September 13, 2015. |

"A growing share of Americans are religiously unaffiliated, including some who self-identify as atheists or agnostics as well as many who describe their religion as 'nothing in particular'," noted Pew.

"Altogether, the religiously unaffiliated (also called the 'nones') now account for 23% of the adult population, up from 16% in 2007."

Findings noted in the National Journal analysis included the decline of the white Christian population of America from 55 percent in 2007 to 46 percent in 2014.

This stood in contrast to previous polls that placed the white Christian population at about 80 percent in 1944 and just under 70 percent in 1984.

Citing Pew statistics, Brownstein observed that the general religious shift in America away from Christianity has come to the Democratic Party much faster than the Republican Party.

"The Pew studies found that the share of Republicans who identify as Christians dropped only modestly from 87 percent in 2007 to 82 percent in 2014," wrote Brownstein.

"Over that same period, the share of Democrats who identify as Christians fell by over twice as much, from 74 percent to 63 percent."

There were other findings showing this growing Christian Gap between Democrats and Republicans heading into the presidential primary season.

While 85 percent of white Republicans with college degrees identified as Christian, only 47 percent of white Democrats with college degrees identified as Christian.

Whereas from 2007 to 2014 the number of white Republicans who identified as Christian declined by 4 percentage points, the number of white Democrats who identified as Christian declined by 13 percentage points.

Brownstein noted that while white Democrats had a sharp decline in Christian affiliation, African-Americans and Latinos in the Party remained more Christian in their religious composition.

"Far higher shares of Democratic African-Americans (81 percent) and Latinos (76 percent) call themselves Christians," wrote Brownstein.

"Those numbers also have slipped some since 2007, but much more modestly than the declines among white Democrats."

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