Americans Still Want Separation of Politics and Religion

Americans Still Want Separation of Politics and Religion November 18, 2019

A new Pew Research Center survey affirms that Americans still generally think religion is good for America, yet they want organized religion to stay out of politics. This is an important point since the ever-growing Evangelicalism and Pentecostal/Charismatic sects generally want to make the U.S. a Christian nation, or, as they would put it, return America to being a Christian nation. And President Donald Trump’s administration has been advocating the relaxing of laws preventing religious organizations and other non-profits from endorsing politicians under threat of losing their tax-exempt status.

When Pew asked U.S. citizens if religious organizations should publicly endorse political candidates, 76% answered “no.” I would have answered likewise. For many decades, I have been strongly against religious organizations publicly endorsing political candidates. I believe The Johnson Amendment of 1954 was an improvement of our nation. That’s when Senator Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas, where I later lived for forty years, proposed that religious institutions engaging in political activities would risk losing their tax-exempt status. It became a law administered by the Internal Revenue Service.

When Ronald Reagan was president, he tried to overturn this law. Now that Donald Trump is president, his administration has been advocating likewise. I think it would be unwise to do that. In both of these instances, these presidents have been of the Republican Party. Moreover, I believe that people who are of this mindset generally are lacking in a true spirituality that includes wisdom. Our founding forefathers had wisdom in deciding that there should be a certain separation of politics and religion, as I would prefer to call it, rather than “separation of church and state.” I could elaborate on why I take this stand, but I’d rather not take the time now.

Yet this Pew survey shows that a slight majority of Americans believe the Republican Party is positive toward religion, whereas only 20% of Americans believe the Democratic Party is friendly toward religion. That’s the way I see it, too.

Another interesting find from this Pew survey is that 70% of Republicans and 56% of Democrats attend religious services in which they agree substantially with the political positions of the clergy. This one surprised me that the percentage was this high. I suspect I would be on the low end on this one.

(This survey was conducted in March-April this year, and it has a 1.7% to 2.4% margin of error depending of each of the questions asked.)

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