Republicans, Democrats have different opinions about Biden’s religiosity: Pew

President Joe Biden
President Joe Biden participates in a conference phone call with governors affected by a snowstorm in the Midwest and southwest Feb. 16, 2021, in the Oval Office of the White House. |

A new survey from the Pew Research Center found that while the majority of Americans know that President Joe Biden is Catholic, perceptions about the degree of his religiosity differ based on an individual’s partisan affiliation.

The Pew Research Center released the results of an extensive survey last week asking the American people for their thoughts and feelings about the religious faith of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. The survey, conducted between March 1 and March 7, included 12,055 respondents who are part of Pew’s American Trends Panel, which is “an online survey panel that is recruited through national random sampling of residential address.”

The survey asked respondents to identify the faith of the president and vice president. Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed correctly identified Biden’s faith as Roman Catholic.

An additional 31% said they were not sure of his faith, while 6% identified him as Protestant, 3% said he was atheist, 1% said he belongs to an “other religion” not listed, and 1% thought his religion is “something else.” A higher number of Democrats and Democrat leaners (63%) knew that Biden is Catholic than Republicans and Republican leaners, just 55% of whom identified Biden’s faith as Catholic.

The survey also asked respondents to weigh in on their thoughts about Biden’s religiosity. Among all U.S. adults, a majority (64%) said the president is religious, with 37% characterizing him as “somewhat religious” and 27% describing him as “very religious.” Meanwhile, 35% of Americans think Biden is not religious, with 21% saying that he is “not too religious” and 14% believing that he is “not at all religious.”

An overwhelming majority of Democrats and those who lean Democrat (88%) believe that Biden is religious, with 45% describing him as “very religious” and 43% agreeing with the characterization of the president as “somewhat religious.” Nine percent of Democrats thought that the president is “not too religious” while 3% believed that he is “not at all religious.”

Republicans are far less likely than Democrats to describe Biden as religious. Just 7% of Republicans and adults who lean Republican thought that he was “very religious,” while 29% described him as “somewhat religious.” A plurality of Republicans surveyed (35%) concluded that Biden was “not too religious,” while 29% characterized him as “not at all religious.”

The responses to a question about how often people think Biden mentions his religious faith and prayer also illustrated a partisan divide. Overall, 61% of Americans believe that Biden mentions his religious faith and prayer “about the right amount.” That number rises to 79% among Democrats while dropping to 42% among Republicans.

While just 11% of Democrats thought that Biden mentions his religious faith and prayer “too little,” 33% of Republicans said the same, along with 21% of the respondents as a whole. A small minority of all U.S. adults (14%) thought that Biden mentions his religious faith and prayer “too much.” Broken down by partisan affiliation, 8% of Democrats and 5% of Republicans said the same.

With responses broken down among religious groups, white evangelical Christians, a strongly Republican voting bloc, were the least likely to say that they thought Biden is “very” or “somewhat” religious. As majorities of all other religious groups agreed with that supposition, just 35% of white evangelicals said that they agreed with the characterization.

White evangelicals were also the most likely group to say that Biden talks about his religious faith too little and the least likely to believe that he discusses his faith “about the right amount.” Majorities of all other religious groups believed that Biden talks about his religion “about the right amount,” while a narrow plurality (41%) of white evangelicals said the same. Thirty-nine percent of white evangelicals told Pew that the president talks about his religion “too little,” a far higher share than all other religious groups.

The results of the survey reflect concerns about Biden’s position on abortion among pro-life religious voters, who overwhelmingly support the Republican Party in presidential elections. Biden, who touted his Catholic faith on the campaign trail, was denied communion by a priest in South Carolina because of his pro-abortion advocacy.

Although most respondents correctly identified Biden as a Catholic, the American public remains unsure about Harris’ religion. When asked to identify Harris’ faith, the overwhelming majority of respondents (65%) reported that they were “not sure.” Twelve percent correctly identified her faith as Protestant, while 8% said she belongs to “no religion,” 5% thought she was Catholic, 4% thought she belongs to an “other religion,” such as Judaism or Islam, while 3% told Pew that Harris practices Hinduism.

The partisan divide that manifested itself in the question about Biden’s religiosity was also on display when respondents were asked about Harris’ religiosity. Overall, a majority of Americans (52%) thought that Harris was “not too religious” or “not at all” religious compared to 46% who described her as either “very” or “somewhat” religious.

The share of respondents who saw Harris as “not too religious” or “not at all” religious rose to 79% among Republicans, while dropping to 29% among Democrats. Nineteen percent of Republicans described Harris as “very” or “somewhat” religious compared to 69% of Democrats. The share of respondents that viewed Harris as “very” or “somewhat” religious ranged from 20% among white evangelicals to 78% among black Protestants, a group that overwhelmingly favors Democrats in presidential elections.

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