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Monday, November 17, 2008

Survey Finds U.S. Churches Less Engaged in 2008 Election

Reprinted by permission of The Christian Post

By Jennifer Riley
Christian Post Reporter
Sun, Nov. 16 2008 12:47 PM EST

Churches were less active in this year’s election process than in 2004, according to a recently released survey.

The survey by Pew Research Center for the People & the Press found that significantly fewer voters who attended religious services said that they received information about political parties and candidates at their place of worship during the 2008 election cycle.

Among all voters who attend religious services at least once or twice a month, only 15 percent say they received election information at their house of worship. In 2004, 27 percent said they were given such information.

The difference was most greatest among white evangelicals, who reported a 17 percent change between 2004 and 2008 (33 to 16 percent, respectively) and among Catholics, who also saw a 17 percent drop (31 to 14 percent).

Black Protestants, meanwhile, were the most likely to hear about candidates and parties in churches during this election year (29 percent) compared with other religious groups.

Besides being less likely to receive information on presidential candidates, church-goers this year were also less likely to say they received information about state or local ballot initiatives or constitutional amendments.

In 2004, nearly one-in-five (19 percent) voters who attend religious services received such information, compared with 13 percent in this year’s campaign.

Fewer voters also said their clergy explicitly encouraged them to vote in a particular way. Only eight percent of those who attend services say they received this kind of encouragement in 2008, which is slightly less than the 11 percent who said they were urged to vote for a particular candidate or ballot initiative by clergy or religious group in 2004.

Among the religious groups, Catholics were the ones most likely to say they were encouraged by clergy or other religious groups at their church to vote in a particular manner. Nearly one out of five white Catholics (18 percent) said they were urged by the church to vote a certain way, more than double the figure for any other religious group.

The survey results were based on telephone interviews conducted Nov. 6-9, 2008, among a sample of 1,500 voters (“voters” are those respondents who said they voted in the 2008 election).

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