A poll done by the Pew Research Center shows that Americans have become increasingly uneasy with the idea of mixing religion and politics. The reason for this has a whole lot to do with the battle over birth control coverage in employer sponsored health insurance.
The Pew Research Center, according to it’s website, is “a non-partisan fact tank that provides information on the issues, attitude and trends shaping America and the world.” It conducts public opinion polling, and other types of empirical social science research. The Pew Research Center does not take positions on policy issues. It just gathers data and presents the facts of what it collects.
In early March of 2012, the Pew Research Center conducted a poll of 1,503 adults. This was around the same time as when the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops was ramping up its very vigorous campaign against the federal mandate that required all insurance companies to cover the cost of birth control, without making consumers pay a co-pay, co-insurance, or deductible.
When the Pew Research Center first asked Americans about the mixing of politics and religion, only 12% responded by complaining that their politicians talked too much about religion. The recent poll shows that the number has risen.
Now, 38% of Americans, (including 24% of Republicans), have stated that they feel that their political leaders are “overdoing it” with their expressions of faith and prayer. 54% believe that churches should keep out of politics.
There has been an ongoing battle between the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (and other religious organizations), and the Obama administration, over laws that require health insurance policies to cover certain types of health care. There is a big difference between the way that the two sides see things.
The Obama administration sees the coverage of birth control as a good way to ensure that women will have access to women’s health care. The religious groups interpret the requirement that health insurance policies must cover birth control as a personal attack against their ability to have religious freedom.
Several politicians have been taking advantage of the controversy by emphasizing their own religious views, in an effort to get more votes in the upcoming Presidential election. The same politicians have made it clear exactly which health care laws they intend to repeal if they are elected President. There has been a great deal of mixing of politics and religion in this particular campaign period.
The poll done by the Public Religion Research Institute found that 56% of Americans do not believe that religious liberty is under siege. Peter Steinfels, the co-director of the Center on Religion and Culture at Fordham University, said: “Religious leaders ought to be worried. We’re seeing Americans becoming more skeptical” about the propriety of religious involvement in politics.
Image by Mike Licht on Flickr