The Pew Research Center reported Monday that 72 percent of Americans believe religion is losing its influence on American life, a striking development in a nation where religious arguments, religious leaders and religious voting blocs have long played an important role.
While the declining influence of religion is, perhaps, a natural side effect of the declining religiosity of Americans, more surprising is that as religion fades in American culture, many Americans regret its receding role in politics.
Nearly half of Americans — 49 percent, to be precise — say houses of worship should express their views on social and political questions, up 6 points since the 2010 midterm elections. And 32 percent — a rising minority — say houses of worship should endorse candidates, which is currently illegal.
Other key findings of the poll: Support for allowing gay men and lesbians to marry has dropped to 49 percent, down from 54 percent in February, and 50 percent say it is a sin to engage in homosexual behavior, up from 45 percent last year. Only 30 percent of Americans now see the Obama administration as friendly toward religion, down 9 points since 2012.
The Pew poll, conducted by telephone from Sept. 2 to 9, included 2,002 adults; it has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.