|TWIN CITIES — The presidential candidates’ faith will not play a large role in this fall’s election, so said a new poll from the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life and the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.
While the poll revealed voters believe it’s important for the candidates to have strong religious beliefs, most have limited knowledge of the candidates’ faith. As a result, pollsters believe faith will not play a large role in the election.
Sixty percent of those polled know that presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is a Mormon, which is virtually unchanged from four months ago. The “vast majority” of those polled are not concerned about his Mormon faith.
White evangelical Protestants and black Protestants, as well as atheists and agnostics “are the most likely to say they are uncomfortable with Romney’s faith.” However, that unease doesn’t seem to carry over into voting preferences.
Confusion over President Barack Obama’s faith still appears to be an issue, according to the poll. Forty-nine percent say Obama is a Christian, 31 percent say they do not know his faith and 17 percent of registered voters say that Obama is a Muslim.
More than two-thirds of those polled believe that it’s important for a presidential candidate to have strong religious beliefs, a percentage that pollsters say has remained steady over the past decade.
The public also seems to believe strongly that religion is losing its influence on American life, as 66 percent of those polled expressed this view. Pollsters say that percentage has remained steady since 2010 but represents “among the highest percentages saying religion is losing its influence since the question was first asked in a Gallup poll in 1957.”
The percentage of those who approve of this perceived loss of influence by religion is also increasing, up from 6 percent in 2006 to 12 percent today.
ACTIONPOINT: For more information about the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life and the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, visit www.pewforum.org.