89% of religious “nones” in America say religion should be kept separate from government policies

Source: Pew Research Center

Views on religion, its role in policy

When it comes to religion and morality, most Americans (56%) say that belief in God is not necessary in order to be moral and have good values; 42% say it is necessary to believe in God in order to be moral and have good values.

The share of the public that says belief in God is not morally necessary has edged higher over the past six years. In 2011, about as many said it was necessary to believe in God to be a moral person (48%) as said it was not (49%). This shift in attitudes has been accompanied by a rise in the share of Americans who do not identify with any organized religion.

Republicans are roughly divided over whether belief in God is necessary to be moral (50% say it is, 47% say it is not), little changed over the 15 years since the Center first asked the question. But the share of Democrats who say belief in God is not a condition for morality has increased over this period.

About two-thirds (64%) of Democrats and Democratic leaners say it is not necessary to believe in God in order to be moral and have good values, up from 51% who said this in 2011.

The growing partisan divide on this question parallels the widening partisan gap in religious affiliation.

About six-in-ten whites (62%) think belief in God is not necessary in order to be a moral person. By contrast, roughly six-in-ten blacks (63%) and 55% of Hispanics say believing in God is a necessary part of being a moral person with good values.

There is a strong correlation between age and the share saying it is necessary to believe in God to be a moral person. By 57% to 41%, more of those ages 65 and older say it is necessary to believe in God in order to be moral and have good values. By contrast, 73% of those ages 18 to 29 say it is not necessary to believe in God to be a moral person (just 26% say it is).

Those with more education are less likely to say it is necessary to believe in God to be moral than those with less education. Overall, 76% of those with a postgraduate degree say it is not necessary to believe in God in order to be a moral person and have good values, compared with 69% of college graduates, 58% of those with some college experience and just 42% of those with no college experience.

Most black Protestants (71%) and white evangelical Protestants (65%) say it is necessary to believe in God to be a moral person. But the balance of opinion is reversed among white mainline Protestants: By 63% to 34%, they say belief in God is not a necessary part of being a moral person.

Among Catholics, 61% of Hispanics think belief in God is a necessary part of being moral, while 57% of white Catholics do not think this is the case. An overwhelming share of religiously unaffiliated Americans (85%) say it is not necessary to believe in God in order to be moral.

When it comes to religion’s role in government policy, most Americans think the two should be kept separate from one another. About two-thirds (65%) say religion should be kept separate from government policies, compared with 32% who say government policies should support religious values and beliefs.

A narrow majority of Republicans and Republican leaners (54%) say religion should be kept separate from government policies. However, conservative Republicans are evenly split; 49% say government policies should support religious values and beliefs, while 48% think religion should be kept separate from policy. By roughly two-to-one (67% to 31%), moderate and liberal Republicans say religion should be kept separate from government policy.

Among Democrats and Democratic leaners, 76% think religion should be kept separate from government policies. A wide 86% majority of liberal Democrats say this; a somewhat smaller majority of conservative and moderate Democrats (69%) take this view.

White evangelical Protestants are one group where a narrow majority says government policies should support religion: 54% say this, while 43% say religion should be kept separate from policy. In comparison, majorities of both black Protestants (55%) and white mainline Protestants (70%) think religion should be separate from government policy.

About two-thirds of white Catholics (68%) think religion should be kept separate from government policy; 53% of Hispanic Catholics share this view. Among those who do not affiliate with a religion, 89% think religion and government policy should be kept separate.

Reference

empty church II

Empty church pews are a very visual representation of the growing “nones,” among the millennial generation

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