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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 6, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 45
Pew religion survey: Evangelicals largest group among GOP, unaffiliated among Dems

Majority of Christians now say they accept LGBT Americans
Section One
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Pew religion survey: Evangelicals largest group among GOP, unaffiliated among Dems

Majority of Christians now say they accept LGBT Americans

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A new Pew Research study reveals stark differences in religious affiliation between the two leading political parties, with more than a third of Republicans identifying as evangelicals, but the 'none' category leading among Democrats.

Republican religious preferences have remained more or less static since the original Pew Religious Landscape Study was done in 2007, while Democrats have shifted significantly toward the unaffiliated column.

At the same time, respondents of all religious preferences indicate greater acceptance of their LGBT neighbors than they did in 2007.

Among Republicans, 38% now identify as evangelicals (compared with 37% in 2007), 17% say they are 'mainline Protestants' (21% in 2007), and only 2% identify with 'historically black Protestant churches' (the same as in 2007), illustrating the GOP's limited appeal to the African-American community.

Twenty-one percent of Republicans say they are Catholics (22% in 2007), and 4% identify with other Christian denominations (the same as in 2007). Non-Christians make up 3% of Republicans surveyed (2% in 2007).

The unaffiliated category - those who answered 'none' to the question on religious identification - accounted for 14% of Republicans (only 10% in 2007).

Among Democrats, on the other hand, there were twice as many 'nones' - 28% - and their share of the Democratic total has grown significantly from the 19% who reported no religious affiliation in 2007.

The share of every religious category except for historically black churches shrank among Democrats since 2007.

Only 16% of Democrats identified as evangelicals (compared with 19% in 2007), 13% said they were mainline Protestants (17% in 2007), and 21% said they were Catholics (24% in 2007). Two percent of Democrats in the survey said they identified with some other Christian group, the same as in 2007.

The number of people identifying with black Christian churches slightly increased, however, with 12% of Democrats saying they belonged to such a church, compared with 11% in 2007.

Non-Christian Democrats also increased slightly, from 7% in 2007 to 8% in the new survey.

Pew cautions that not all the 'nones' are nonbelievers. In fact, the majority of respondents in the unaffiliated category say they believe in God. But the 'nones' are far less observant than Americans who identify with a specific faith, and they also have become even less observant over time, the Pew study found.

More acceptance towards LGBT Americans

Respondents in all Christian groups showed much more openness towards LGBT Americans than in 2007, with large majorities of most mainstream churches now saying that 'homosexuality should be accepted by society.'

Among all Christians, 54% now say that LGBT Americans should be accepted (compared with only 44% in 2007).

Among Roman Catholics, the percentage soared to 70% from 58% in 2007, perhaps explaining Pope Francis's conciliatory comments about Gay people.

Sixty-six percent of mainline Protestants say LGBT people should be accepted (56% in 2007), and even 62% of the Eastern Orthodox - a notoriously traditionalist church - agree (up from only 48% in 2007).

A majority of people identifying with historically black churches now agree. Fifty-one percent now say LGBT folks should be accepted, up from only 39% in 2007.

Support for LGBT Americans has even increased among evangelicals and Mormons, although it has not yet become the majority view in those denominations. Thirty-sex percent of both groups now say the LGBT community should be accepted (compared with 26% of evangelicals and 24% of Mormons in 2007).

Jehovah's Witnesses lagged far behind, with only 16% saying LGBT people should be accepted, although that number was up from 12% in 2007.

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