What do Americans think about the role of religion in American politics? According to results from a New York Times/CBS News poll conducted Jan. 12-17, it appears that most Americans have concerns about the intersection of the two.
By a 61%-29% margin, most poll respondents said they are more worried by public officials who pay too much attention to religion and religious leaders than public officials who don’t pay enough attention to the two.
Only 40 percent of poll respondents said presidential candidates should discuss the role of religion in their lives. In contrast, 56 percent said a candidate’s religious beliefs should not be part of a presidential campaign.
Respondents were also more likely to say that it was not very important or not important at all (59% overall) that a presidential candidate share their religious beliefs.
Some folks might be surprised by those poll results, especially considering efforts by national religious-right leaders to shape the Republican presidential nominating process this year. (See, for example, here and here.)
The Texas Freedom Network Education Fund, the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy and the Rice University Religion and Public Life Program are sponsoring a special symposium on the influence of religion in the 2012 elections on Wednesday, January 25, in Houston. That evening the TFN Education Fund is sponsoring a presentation by Pulitzer-winning columnist and book author Leonard Pitts on the same topic at Congregation Emanu El across from the Rice campus. Click here for more information. Attendance at the symposium is free, but registration is required. Tickets to the Pitts presentation are $20.