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Survey finds increasing number of Protestants want their church to be politically homogenous

57% of churchgoers younger than 50 want other members to vote the same way they do

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As voters prepare to cast their ballots for the midterm elections, a recent study says that most Protestants prefer to attend a church where the congregation’s political views align with theirs. 

According to a study released Tuesday by Lifeway Research, an organization that surveys ongoing trends in church ministries, 50% of non-Catholics surveyed in the U.S. prefer to attend a politically homogenous church, while 41% disagreed and 10% were uncertain. 

At least 55% of participants believe they are attending a church that shares their political views. Fewer than a quarter disagreed (23%) or aren’t sure (22%).

Lifeway Research conducted the survey online from Sept. 19-29, using a national pre-recruited panel of over 1,000 Americans. The study’s margin of error was +/- 3.3%, with a 95% confidence level. 

“Studies have shown that voting patterns and political affiliation correlate with the type of church and amount of church involvement someone has,” Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research, said in a statement. “But when asked if churchgoers want political similarity to flow back into their church relationships, this is desirable for only half of churchgoers.”

In a 2017 Lifeway Research study, 46% of participants said they would rather attend a church with people who share their same political preferences. The recent study found that 19% of Protestants strongly agree they prefer to attend a church where people share their political views, up from 12% in 2017.

The recent survey also found that younger churchgoers were more likely than older ones to prefer the church they attend to share their views. Fifty-seven percent of those younger than 50 said they want their fellow congregants to vote the same way they do. In comparison, 47% of churchgoers ages 50 to 65, and 41% who are 65 and older said the same. 

Ethnicity and education also played a factor in how much emphasis U.S. churchgoers placed on politics. Fifty-four percent of whites said they prefer to attend church with people who share their politics, compared to 53% of African Americans and 25% of Hispanics. 

Individuals with no college degree or less than a high school education (44%) were among the least likely to care whether they attended church with people who hold the same political views.

How many participants cared about their fellow congregant's politics varied based on denomination. Eighty-eighty percent of Methodists and 80% of Restorationist movement churchgoers were more likely to care about other members' political alignments. 

Forty-seven percent of Baptists and Presbyterians/Reformers prefer to attend church with people who share a common political perspective, compared to 38% of Lutherans. Another 38% of participants who identify as nondenominational voiced a preference for churches that share their politics. 

Respondents with Evangelical beliefs (44%) were less likely than those who don’t fully accept the four core Evangelical theology statements (54%) to care if other church attendees shared their political opinions.

“If one looks at the culture today, you might assume that most churches have been arguing over politics as well,” McConnell said.

“While it appears more churchgoers notice the political views of other attendees, only 28% of pastors agree (14% strongly) that their church has experienced significant conflict in the last year,” he continued, citing a 2021 Lifeway Research study of more than 1,500 Evangelical and Black Protestant pastors. 

“Those who want political continuity may simply want a respite from political strife at church, and others may want to move together in political action,” McConnell said. 

Earlier this month, Rasmussen Reports released a national survey of 1,155 U.S. adults. It found that 42% of respondents said they think the U.S. would be better off if more people attended religious services regularly, with responses varying depending on participants' political views. 

Thirty-six percent of Democrats and 65% of Republicans said the country would benefit from more people attending religious services regularly. Thirty percent of people unaffiliated with either party said the same thing. Another 13% said more Americans attending services more often would make the country worse, while 15% said they weren't sure.

The survey was conducted online and by phone from Sept. 20-21, with the margin of sampling error at +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% confidence level. 

Samantha Kamman is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: samantha.kamman@christianpost.com.

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