Almost half of adults in the United States believe that the Bible should influence the laws, with over a quarter saying that it should overrule the will of the people, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center.
A report by Pew’s Fact Tank published Monday found that in a survey of American adults, 49 percent of respondents believe that the Bible should have either “a great deal” or “some” influence on U.S. laws.
By contrast, 19 percent of respondents said they believe that the Bible should have “not much” influence on the laws, while 31 percent responded “none at all.”
Among those who said the Bible should have “a great deal” or “some” influence on laws, 28 percent said they believe the Bible should overrule the will of the people when they conflict.
White evangelicals were the religious group most likely to support the Bible having influence on laws, with 58 percent of respondents saying it should have “a great deal” of influence and 31 percent saying it should have “some” influence.
Among white evangelical respondents who supported biblical influence on laws, 68 percent believe that the Bible should overrule the will of the people when they conflict. This was the largest support for that answer among all surveyed religious groups.
Black Protestants also largely supported biblical influence on laws, with 47 percent responding with “a great deal” and 29 percent responding with “some.”
For the report, Pew used data drawn from its American Trends Panel, which was conducted Feb. 4-15 and had a sample of 6,395 with a margin of error of plus or minus 1.6 percentage points.
In their report, Pew acknowledged that they did not ask respondents what they specifically thought of when hearing about possible biblical influence on law.
In January, the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research at the University of Chicago released a survey indicating that white evangelical Protestants were more likely than the general population to support religious influence on government policy.
Drawn from a sample of 1,053 adults conducted last December with a margin of error of 4 percentage points, the AP/NORC survey found that on most issues, majorities of white evangelicals said religion should have “a lot” or “some” influence.
For example, 80 percent of white evangelicals surveyed said religion should have “a lot” or “some” influence when it comes to abortion policies, versus 41 percent of all other respondents.