(Week of 3/3/2012) For the most part, Americans want to draw a clear division between church and state — though that position is much more likely to be taken by Democratic voters than GOP voters in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll.
By 41% to 34%, the public overall believes the line between church and state should be absolute. But that position is taken by nearly two out of three Democratic voters and only 24% of GOP voters. Over half of Republican voters disagree.
But many Americans are willing to blur the line when it comes to some forms of religious activity in schools and government. Most favor displays of religion in public buildings, non–denominational prayer before high school football games, and the use of the phrase "In God We Trust" on U.S. coins. Nearly half would teach the Bible in public schools. There is opposition only when it comes to money: only 30% would use public money to fund social programs run by Christian organizations.
Larger numbers of GOP voters support most of these activities, but they are similar to the overall population when it comes to giving money to fund Christian–run social programs — only 38% approve of this policy.
Many Americans draw the dividing line when it comes to mixing religion and politics. 42% think candidates talk too much about their religious beliefs. Just 22% say they talk too little about them. But once again the parties differ: most Democratic voters see too much discussion of religion in the campaign, while GOP voters think there is the right amount of discussion.
Photo source: Press Association