Entries in Pew National Survey (3)


Number of Americans Without Religious Affiliation on the Rise

George Doyle/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Nearly 20 percent of Americans do not identify with any particular religion, according to a new poll. The number is much higher among younger Americans, according to the survey from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

For the first time less than half of Americans – 48 percent – consider themselves to be Protestant. One third of Americans under 30 do not identify with a religion. Pew calls them “nones.”

In 1972, only 7 percent of Americans did not identify with a religion, according to Pew.

The number of Christians has fallen by 5 percent, according to the survey. Those affiliated with “other religions” has risen by more than 2 percent. And the number not identifying with a particular religion has gone up more than 4 percent since 2007.

Those without a specific religion are not necessarily nonbelievers. In fact most of them do believe in a higher power of some kind. About 30 percent of the “nones” are “absolutely certain” there is a God or universal spirit. Seven percent of the U.S. population and 27 percent of those not affiliated with a religion believe there is no God or universal spirit.

The number of Americans who attend church “seldom or never” has climbed from 25 percent in a 2003 Pew survey to 29 percent today.

All this paints an interesting picture of American religious life, and according to the survey, could have political consequences. “Nones” seem to favor Democrats.

Here is a passage from Pew’s report:
With their rising numbers, the religiously unaffiliated are an increasingly important segment of the electorate. In the 2008 presidential election, they voted as heavily for Barack Obama as white evangelical Protestants did for John McCain. More than six-in-ten religiously unaffiliated registered voters are Democrats (39%) or lean toward the Democratic Party (24%). They are about twice as likely to describe themselves as political liberals than as conservatives, and solid majorities support legal abortion (72%) and same-sex marriage (73%). In the last five years, the unaffiliated have risen from 17% to 24% of all registered voters who are Democrats or lean Democratic.

Democrats may do better among those not identifying with religion, but it is still quite difficult to be an elected official in the United States as an atheist. A Pew study in 2011 found that 61 percent of Americans would be less likely to support a candidate that didn’t believe in God. Only 46 percent would be less likely to support a candidate that had an extramarital affair.

There is only one member of Congress who considers himself an atheist – Rep. Pete Stark of California.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Pew: Public Divided Over Contraception Mandate

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The American public is narrowly divided over the Obama administration mandate on contraception coverage that had initially included all religiously-affiliated groups, according to a new Pew Research Center study.

Among the 62 percent of Americans who have heard about the rule, 48 percent support an exemption to the rule for religious institutions if they object to the use of contraceptives, and 44 percent say they should be required to cover contraceptives like other employers.  

Among religious groups, 55 percent of Catholics who have heard at least a little about the issue favor giving religious institutions that object to the use of contraceptives an exemption from the federal rule, while 39 percent oppose exempting those institutions. White evangelical Protestants, by an even larger margin (68 percent to 22 percent), favor giving religious institutions an exemption. White mainline Protestants are divided (44 percent favor an exemption, 46 percent are opposed).

By contrast, a majority (55 percent) of the religiously unaffiliated who have heard about the issue say religious institutions that object to the use of contraceptives should be required to cover them like other institutions, while 39 percent favor giving an exemption to these institutions.

The survey – conducted Feb. 8-12 -- appears to be the first snapshot of public opinion in the wake of recent debate between the Obama administration, Catholic Church and women’s groups over the contraception coverage mandate.  

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


GOP Gets More Positive Press than Obama, Pew Study Finds

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- Of all the candidates running for president in 2012, President Barack Obama has received the most negative portrayal in the news media, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism.

Researchers found that “negative assessments of Obama have outweighed positive by a ratio of almost four to one” across 11,500 news media outlets they tracked for 23 weeks, between May 2 and Oct. 9.

Only 9 percent of news stories and blogs related to Obama over the period were identified as positive, compared with 34 percent negative and 57 percent neutral, or “straight news accounting of events,” the report concluded.  

Pew used a “trained” computer algorithm to analyze coverage of political candidates, including the president, in newspapers, cable channels, radio and broadcast networks and thousands of blogs, tagging statements within each as either positive, neutral, or negative based on criteria determined by researchers.

Coverage of Obama was never more than 10 percent positive, the study found.  Moreover, negative coverage of Obama always exceeded positive coverage by at least 20 percentage points.

While the study did not examine reasons for the findings, the intense critical spotlight on the presidency and the country’s persistent economic woes that have plagued the administration are likely two factors that influenced results.

Meanwhile, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has received the most coverage and most positive coverage than any other Republican candidate, Pew found.  Thirty-two percent of statements or assertions related to Perry were positive, while just 20 percent were negative.

Tea Party-aligned candidates – Perry, Palin, Bachmann and Cain – all received more positive than negative coverage, the study found.

Current GOP frontrunner and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has been subjected to less flattering but more consistent news coverage, with 26 percent of Romney references taking a positive tone and 27 percent taking a negative one.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio