U.S. adults are evenly divided when it comes to their assessment of whether something is good or evil, according to a Pew Research Center analysis published Dec. 21.
Survey respondents were asked to indicate with which of the following statements they agreed: “Most things in society can be pretty clearly divided into good and evil” or “Most things in society are too complicated to be clearly divided into good and evil.”
Half (50%) of respondents affirmed that “most things … are too complicated,” while 48% said “most things … can be pretty clearly divided” and 2% refrained from answering.
Those attending religious services at least weekly (59%) were far more likely than those attending seldom / never (42%) to say, “Most things in society can be pretty clearly divided into good and evil.”
White evangelical Protestants (64%) were the most likely group to affirm that “most things … can be pretty clearly divided,” followed by Black Protestants (57%), Catholics (49%), white not evangelical Protestants (46%), “nones” (43%), agnostics (29%) and atheists (22%).
Atheists (78%) were the most likely group to say, “most things … are too complicated,” followed by agnostics (71%), “nones” (56%), white not evangelical Protestants (52%), Catholics (49%), Black Protestants (41%) and white evangelical Protestants (34%).
Republican / lean Republican respondents (59%) were far more likely than Democrat / lean Democrat respondents (38%) to say, “most things … can be pretty clearly divided.”
This pattern was seen within the religious groupings when their responses were divided based on political affiliation, with 65% of Protestant Republicans, 57% of Catholic Republicans and 48% of unaffiliated Republicans affirming this position, compared to 45%, 43% and 31% of Democrats, respectively.
“Religious groups differ from one another in their political makeup. … Still, party identification does not fully explain the religious differences described in this analysis; within both parties, there are large differences across religious groups,” the report said. “For instance, Republican Christians are more likely than Republican ‘nones’ to say that most things in society can be clearly divided into good and evil (63% vs. 48%). Similarly, Democratic Christians are more likely than Democratic ‘nones’ to give that response (43% vs. 31%).”