Barna Survey: The God Gap in American Politics Alive and Well

A new survey finds that political conservatives are much more religiously orthodox than liberals.

By SHARE

By Dan Gilgoff, God & Country

After Barack Obama won culturally conservative Indiana and North Carolina, doubled his support among traditionalist Catholics over the previous Democratic presidential nominee, and made inroads among white evangelicals, there was lots of talk about the end of the God gap between Democrats and Republicans. The gap, it seemed, had been overtaken by the economic tidal wave.

An important new survey from the Barna Group shows why that's not exactly the case. Not even close. It finds that political conservatives are much more religiously orthodox than liberals. The key findings:

The Religious Beliefs of Liberals and Conservatives

Liberals are less than half as likely as conservatives to firmly believe that the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches (27% versus 63%, respectively); to strongly believe that Satan is real (17% versus 36%); and to firmly contend that they have a personal responsibility to share their religious beliefs with others (23% versus 48%).

Liberals are also far less likely than conservatives to strongly believe each of the following:

  • their religious faith is very important in their life (54% of liberals vs. 82% of conservatives);
  • a person cannot earn their way into Heaven by doing good deeds or being a good person (23% vs. 37%);
  • their faith is becoming an increasingly important moral guide in their life (38% vs. 70%);
  • the church they currently attend is very important in helping them find direction and fulfillment in life (37% vs. 62%);
  • their primary purpose in life is to love God with all their heart, mind, strength and soul (43% vs. 76%);
  • Jesus Christ did not commit sins during His time on earth (33% vs. 55%).
  • The Religious Practices of Liberals and Conservatives

    The Barna study examined five specific religious practices and found that conservatives were more likely than liberals to engage in all five. In a typical week, the survey showed that conservatives were more likely than liberals to:

    • read the Bible, other than at church events, during the past week (57% vs. 33%, respectively)
    • attend a religious service during the past week (62% vs. 35%)
    • pray to God, other than at a religious service, during the past week (91% vs. 76%)
    • share their religious beliefs with others, during the past year (56% vs. 39%, among the born again Christians interviewed from each segment)
    • have ever participated in a short-term missions trip, either within the U.S. or in another country (12% vs. 6%)
    • The research also revealed that liberals are twice as likely as conservatives to be categorized as "unchurched" (40% vs. 19%, respectively), while conservatives were twice as likely as liberals to be categorized as having an "active faith" (45% vs. 21%, respectively, defined as having read the Bible, attended a religious service and prayed to God during the past week).

      Read full survey results here.

      • Read more by Dan Gilgoff .
      • Read more about religion.