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Post-Election American Values Survey

Sponsor: Brookings Institution/Public Religion Research Institute
Released: 2010-11

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President Obama’s religion dilemma. A majority of Americans say that President Obama has religious beliefs that are somewhat different (16%) or very different (35%) than their own. Only 4-in-10 believe that Obama has similar religious beliefs to their own. Of those who say Obama’s religious beliefs are very similar to their own, 94 percent have a favorable view of him. Alternatively, among Americans who say Obama’s beliefs are very different from their own, nearly eight-in-ten say they have either a very unfavorable (51 percent) or mostly unfavorable (27 percent) view of him.

Americans are essentially split over whether the values of Islam are at odds with American values and way of life. However, views of Islam are highly polarized by political and religious affiliation. Approximately two-thirds of both Republicans and those identifying with the Tea Party say the values of Islam are at odds with American values, compared to only 3-in-10 Democrats. Nearly 6-in-10 (57 percent) white evangelicals say the values of Islam are at odds with American values, a view held by less than 3-in-10 (28 percent) Americans with no religious affiliation.

A majority (58%) of Americans believe God has granted America a special role in human history. Members of the Tea Party (76%) and Republicans (75%) are much more likely to believe that God has a granted the U.S. a special role in human history than independents (54%) or Democrats (49%).

In terms of the direct role of religion, three-quarters (73%) of voters said that compared to previous elections, their faith or religious values played the same role this year in how they voted. Moreover, only about 1-in-10 voters said that their religious beliefs had the biggest influence on their vote. Nearly three-quarters reported that common sense and personal experience had the greatest influence.