White evangelical Protestants are more likely than the general public to express a desire for less separation between church and state, according to a Pew Research Center report published Oct. 28.
More than a third (34%) say “the federal government should stop enforcing separation of church and state,” compared to 19% of all U.S. adults.
This higher level of agreement repeated itself across the other five prompts related to church-state separation in Pew’s survey:
- Cities / towns should be allowed to put religious symbols on public property: 65% of white evangelical Protestants agreed, compared to 39% of all adults.
- Teachers in public schools should be allowed to lead students in Christian prayers: 58% of white evangelical Protestants; 30% of all adults.
- The U.S. Constitution was inspired by God and reflects God’s vision for America: 37% of white evangelical Protestants; 18% of all adults.
- The federal government should declare the U.S. a Christian nation: 35% of white evangelical Protestants; 15% of U.S. adults.
- The federal government should advocate Christian religious values: 29% of white evangelical Protestants; 13% of all U.S. adults.
Support for these positions among U.S. Catholics was as follows:
- Religious symbols on public property: 43%
- Christian prayers led by teachers: 29%
- Stop enforcing church-state separation: 21%
- U.S. Constitution inspired by God: 17%
- Government should declare the U.S. a Christian nation: 12%
- Government should advocate Christian values: 11%
Less than 10% of non-Christians affirmed this view of the U.S. Constitution or wanted to see the end of church-state separation, while 19% agreed that religious symbols should be allowed on public property.
“While the above-average level of support for an overtly Christian government among Republicans and White evangelical Protestants may come as no surprise to close observers of American politics, some of the other patterns in the survey are perhaps more unexpected,” the report said. “For example, many Black and Hispanic Americans – groups that are heavily Democratic – are highly religious Christians, and on several of the questions in the survey, they are just as likely as White Americans, if not more likely, to say they see a special link between Christianity and America.”
Pew divided respondents into four categories based on their cumulative responses on these prompts:
- “Church-state integrationists” affirmed four or more affirmations of the intermingling of church and state.
- “Church-state separationists” expressed four or more views that church and state should not mix.
- “Mixed” expressed a combination of answers, with two of more views falling into each of the above categories.
- “No opinion” didn’t express a view on four or more prompts.
Overall, 55% of all respondents were classified as church-state separationists, compared to 18% mixed, 14% church-integrationists and 12% no opinion.
Among white evangelical Protestants, 26% were church-state separationists, 28% were mixed, 36% church-state integrationists and 10% no opinion. Among Catholics, the figures were 55%, 21%, 11% and 12%, respectively.
The overall margin of error is plus-or-minus 1.5%, with the sub-group margins ranging from 1.9% to 9.8%.