Issues That Divide Most Religious From Least Religious: Abortion, Terrorism And Immigration

July 12, 2012, 4:00 PM GMT+0

(Week of 7/7/2012) Terrorism may have slipped behind other issues, but still remains a concern for most Americans. Overall, 80% rate terrorism an important issue, far behind Topic A: The economy (97%), and also behind health care (93% and rising with a bullet since the Supreme Court decision), Social Security (91%), taxes (91%), the budget deficit (89%), Medicare (87%) and education (86%), all rated as important issues by almost all Americans.

Terrorism at 80% stands in the second tier of issues rated important: immigration (78%), the environment (77%) and the war in Afghanistan (75%), and ahead of abortion (60%) or gay rights (42%) in terms of the number rating each an important issue.

In these rankings of the importance of 13 issues, only a total of two issues are as closely linked to a respondent’s religious faithfulness as is the issue of terrorism.

The gap between the percentage of those for whom religion is very important who rate an issue important and the percentage rating an issue important among those for whom religion is not important at all is generally small (about a 5- to 10-percentage point gap, with the earnestly religious more likely than the least religious to rate each issue important, with one exception: Gay rights).

On terrorism, however, the gap is very wide. Only 58% of the least religious rate terrorism an important issue, compared to 89% of the most religious (a 31-point gap); also, terrorism is rated important by 81% who say religion is somewhat important to them, and 75% among those who say religion is not too important to them.

Abortion is the other issue where the importance gap is that great between the most religious (71% rate abortion an important issue) and the least religious (42% rate abortion important among the least religious, and only 39% do among those for whom religion is not too important). At 22 percentage points, the gap in importance ratings is also quite wide on immigration.

Terrorism is also the issue on which Obama wins approval from the greatest number of Americans. Overall, on the same 13 issues tested for importance, an average of 36% approve of Obama’s performance. On terrorism, 49% approve. Among the least religious, 62% approve of Obama’s performance on terrorism, among the most religious 41%.

Economist/YouGov poll archives can be found here

Photo source: Press Association