Americans becoming more religiously bold

BY admin

January 25 2005 12:00 AM ET

Americans are less prone to compromise when it comes to their religious beliefs on such hot-button issues as abortion, gay rights, and the death penalty, according to a new survey released by Public Agenda.

The nonprofit, nonpartisan research group compared Americans' views of religion in public life between 2000 and 2004. The survey--conducted before the November election--found a smaller number of Americans who believe that deeply religious elected officials sometimes have to compromise in the political arena, with major decreases among those who attend religious services weekly.

For example, in 2000, 84% of Americans said, "Even elected officials who are deeply religious sometimes have to make compromises and set their convictions aside to get results while in government." In 2004, that number had dropped to 74%, with even sharper drops among weekly service attenders and evangelicals.

On abortion, gay rights, and the death penalty, the majority of Americans who attend services weekly now say that deeply religious politicians should stick to their own religious beliefs rather than be willing to compromise.

"Compromise has a long and important history in American politics," said Ruth A. Wooden, president of Public Agenda. "But in 2004, there were more Americans who wanted elected officials to keep their religious principles in mind when they vote on issues like abortion and gay rights. We found double-digit decreases in support for compromise on these issues among those who attend services weekly and among Catholics. The changes are really quite dramatic."

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