Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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August 25, 2004
By: Amy Sullivan

Fun With Data....Some highlights from the Pew survey I noted below:

52 percent of Americans think it is more important to conduct research than protect embryos in stem-cell research, and that includes nearly 40 percent of those who are certain they are voting for Bush. This is a slight change from two years ago, when 43 percent of respondents thought that new research was most important, while 38 percent prioritized the protection of embryos. (For in-depth analysis of recent polling on stem-cell attitudes, see our friend and colleague Chris Mooneys writing.)

While the GOP is seen as the more "religion-friendly" party, Americans don't necessarily believe that today's Democratic party is unfriendly to religion. (In fact, 10% think Republicans are faith-unfriendly and 13% consider Democrats the same). 74 percent think Democrats are either friendly or neutral toward religion. When the breakdown is between conservatives and liberals, on the other hand, liberals have a bad reputation: Only 21 percent think that liberals are friendly toward religion.

For my money, the most interesting results come when voters are asked whether they think it's appropriate for political parties to ask church members to send in membership directories to help build campaign databases. A full 70 percent of Americans thought this kind of campaign strategy was inappropriate, including two-thirds of conservative Republicans. Evangelicals are more likely to think it's okay than Americans from other faith backgrounds, but even in that community, only one-third thought that this was a proper action for political parties.

And when it comes to maintaining a clear, bright line of separation between church and state, younger Americans are less concerned than older ones. While 33 percent of those under 30 think it's acceptable to ask church members to help out campaigns, only 20 percent of those over 65 agree. In part, that's because public debate about church and state has been so imprecise and muddy over the past few decades that many people have forgotten the original intent was to protect religious institutions from the interference of the state as much as it was to protect the state from any religious influence.

Oh, and nobody thinks Catholic leaders should be able to deny communion to pro-choice politicians. Well, okay, 22 percent of voters do, but that number is driven up by Protestants who shouldn't count anyway because what do we care if a Catholic takes communion or not? We use Wonder bread and grape juice, for goodness sake.

Amy Sullivan 5:49 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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