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African American Forum

Religion and Politics : A Religious Portrait of African-Americans

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On a variety of measures, African-Americans express comfort with religion’s role in politics. According to a summer 2008 Pew Research Center survey, six-in-ten African-Americans (61%) say houses of worship should express their views on social and political matters, while only 36% say churches should avoid these topics. On this question, African-Americans closely resemble white evangelical Protestants, among whom 59% say churches should express their views and 38% say churches should keep out of social and political matters. By contrast, among the overall population, the balance of opinion leans in the opposite direction; 52% say that churches should keep out of politics, while only 45% say churches should express their views on social and political issues.

Half of African-Americans feel there have been too few expressions of faith by political leaders, and an additional 24% say there has been the right amount of religious expression by political leaders; only 23% say there has been too much religious talk from politicians. On balance, the public overall is less concerned with a lack of religious speech from politicians; only 36% say there has been too little of such expressions, while 30% say there has been the right amount and 29% say there has been too much.

Even though African-Americans generally are comfortable with the notion that politics should be influenced and informed by religion, they also support certain limitations on the mingling of politics and religious institutions. For instance, nearly six-in-ten (58%) say churches and other houses of worship should not come out in favor of political candidates. Among the population overall, two-thirds take this point of view.


Religion and African American 97.gif

Religion and African American 98.gif

Religion and African American 99.gif

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