From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Public Says Religious Leaders Have Little

Date 04 May 1996 21:52:31


95451       Public Says Religious Leaders Have Little  
                      Influence on Politics 
            by George H. Gallup Jr. and Robert Bezilla 
          Produced by New York Times Special Features 
           Distributed by United Methodist News Service 
PRINCETON, N.J.--The public is divided on whether religious leaders have 
too much or too little influence on public opinion in this country, but in 
the final analysis few consider the clergy to be an important voice when 
they form their own political views. 
     Nearly half the people think church influence is about right, but the 
remainder are split between those who want religious figures to have more 
influence and those who think they already have too much. 
     Fewer than one person in 10 says religious leaders are most likely to 
influence their own views of the day.  In a recent Gallup Poll only seven 
percent of respondents mentioned religious leaders, while far more looked 
to the news media (42 percent) or to their family or friends (30 percent) 
for guidance in public affairs. 
     Interestingly, only 10 percent cited political leaders as having the 
most influence. 
     Political conservatives are most inclined to say religious leaders are 
having too little influence on public opinion (36 percent), while liberals 
more often think they already have too much (34 percent). 
     Similarly, those who say religion is important in their own lives want 
religious leaders to have more influence across the land (34 percent). 
Among those who say religion is only fairly important or of little 
importance, many would welcome a diminution of the political power of the 
     The findings are based on telephone interviews with a representative 
national sample of 1,011 adults, ages 18 and older, conducted in September 
of this year.  The margin of error could be three percentage points in 
either direction. 

For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
  phone 502-569-5504            fax 502-569-8073  
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