Politicians, stop talking about religion

  • Article by: SUSAN HOGAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 23, 2012 - 8:40 PM

New poll shows that Americans are tiring of presidential candidates preaching religion.

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Republican presidential candidate, former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., bows his head in prayer as he campaigns.

Photo: Charles Dharapak, Associated Press

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Rick Santorum, quit yammering about contraception. Mitt Romney, zip it on religious freedom. Newt Gingrich, pontificating is better left to the pope.

 

Like me, nearly 40 percent of Americans are sick of politicians talking about religion, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center. That's the highest number of objections in more than a decade.

And more than half of Americans, particularly Democrats, say churches should keep their steepled noses out of politics. (Not sure Jesus would agree with that. He hardly seems apolitical in the New Testament.)

The minority that embraces politicians waxing on about their faith, and churches with a politically tinged gospel, are Santorum's GOP supporters. This isn't surprising.

Since the GOP primaries and caucuses began in January, devout evangelicals have emerged as Santorum's base. Moderate Republican believers (including many Catholics) and less-religious believers favor Romney.

For decades, Republicans have been seen as more "religion-friendly," although Howard Dean pushed Democrats in that direction during his tenure as Democratic National Committee chair from 2005-2009.

President Obama agreed, and the effort has paid off -- at least a little. A majority of Democrats (59 percent) view the president's administration as religion-friendly, while Republicans remain on the fence.

Since 2009, the number of white Catholics who view the administration as unfriendly toward religion has nearly doubled -- from 17 percent to 31 percent. Public battles with the bishops over policy matters such as contraception haven't helped that perception.

For some quirky reason, the survey also queried the public about reporters' attitudes toward religion. Roughly one in three people surveyed said reporters were unfriendly. (Gee, even university professors fared better.)

To me, that's more perception than reality. People who work in newsrooms, like the public at large, hold a variety of religious attitudes, from devout to not-so-devout, studies show.

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Susan Hogan is a Star Tribune editorial writer.

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  • QUOTE OF THE WEEK


    "This is an election about not who's the best person to manage Washington or manage the economy. We don't need a manager. We need someone who's going to pull up government by the roots and throw it out and do something to liberate the private sector in America. That's what we need."


    -GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum, in a March 20 speech

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