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Clergy Voices Survey

Sponsor: Public Religion Research
Released: 2008-03

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Mainline clergy are much more likely to identify as liberal and Democratic than conservative or Republican. Almost half (48%) of all mainline clergy identify as liberal, compared to about one‐third (34%) who say they are conservative. A majority (56%) of mainline clergy identify with or lean towards the Democratic Party, compared to roughly one‐third (34%) who claim a Republican affiliation, a 22‐point gap. Clergy political leanings vary considerably by denomination. Three quarters (74%) of UCC clergy identify as liberal, compared to less than a third (32%) of ABCUSA clergy. Mainline Protestant clergy are broadly supportive of government’s role in addressing social problems such as unemployment, poverty and poor housing. More than three‐quarters (78%)agree that the federal government should do more to solve social problems, and more than 4‐in‐10 strongly agree. Mainline clergy are strongly supportive of government action in the areas of health care and the environment. More than two‐thirds (67%) of clergy agree that government should guarantee health insurance for all citizens, even if it means raising taxes. And nearly 7‐in‐10 (69%) clergy say that more environmental protection is needed, even if it raises prices or costs jobs. On a broad range of issues, mainline clergy affirm equality for gay and lesbian Americans. Roughly two‐thirds of mainline clergy support some legal recognition for same‐sex couples (65%), passing hate crime laws (67%), and employment nondiscrimination protections for gay and lesbian people(66%). A majority (55%) of mainline clergy support adoption rights for gay and lesbian people. Mainline Protestant clergy are strong advocates of church‐state separation. A majority (65%) of mainline clergy agree that the U.S. should “maintain a strict separation of church and state.” Mainline clergy are more worried about public officials who are too close to religious leaders (59%) than about public officials who do not pay enough attention to religion (41%). Mainline clergy are more likely to publicly address hunger and poverty and family issues than controversial social issues. More than 8‐in‐10 clergy say they publicly expressed their views about hunger and poverty often in the last year, and three‐quarters say they addressed marriage and family issues often. Only about one‐quarter (26%) say they often discussed the issues of abortion and capital punishment.