New York, NY – January 23, 2008 – Evangelical Christians rank the economy, improving public education and access to health care, and government reform as more important than ending abortion or stopping gay marriage, according to a surprising new online survey by Beliefnet.com, the leading multi-faith spirituality website.
In some ways, the survey reveals evangelicals to be quite conservative: 41% said they were Republican compared to 30% who identified as Democrats; 47% said they were conservative vs. 14% who said they were liberal; Almost 80% said they attended church weekly or more than weekly and 84% said the Bible is the "inerrant word of God."
But when asked what issues they care about most, the results didn't always fit the stereotypes:
The issues that evangelicals ranked as "most important" were cleaning up the government, improving public education/access to health care and the economy. Ending torture also scored high. Combining those who labeled an issue "most important" or “very important,” the results were:
• The economy (85.1%)
• Cleaning up government (85%)
• Reducing poverty (80.7%)
• Improving public education/access to health care (78.6%)
• Protecting the environment (70.2%)
• Ending torture (68%)
• Ending abortion (61.1%)
• Stopping gay marriage (48.7%)
• Helping Africa (48.3%)
• Ending Iraq war (67.3%)
• Winning Iraq war (46.3%)
• Illegal immigration (59.2%)
• Combating sex and violence in the media and entertainment (59.3%)
• Fighting Islamic radicalism (57.8%)
On the traditionally conservative issues, evangelicals seem to care more about abortion than gay marriage, and they have a more nuanced view of how to reduce the number of abortions. Sixty-nine percent of those who said reducing the number of abortions is important said the best way to do it is through "changing the culture through education and other means" compared to 26% who said the best way was limiting abortion rights.
In the presidential campaign, evangelicals preferred Barack Obama more than two to one over Hillary Clinton, 31% to 12%, with 18% preferring John Edwards and 33% undecided. Among Republicans, Mike Huckabee was preferred by 28% compared to 21% for John McCain and just 7% percent for Mitt Romney.
Mitt Romney's Mormonism seems to be a serious obstacle to winning evangelical votes. He came in fourth among evangelicals, behind Ron Paul. Further, when asked if the religious beliefs of the candidates would make it less likely to vote for them, 32% said it made them less likely to support Romney.
Though evangelicals preferred Mike Huckabee, they seemed to have warm feelings about John McCain, even though McCain has been shunned by evangelical leaders over the years. Fifty-three percent of evangelicals viewed him favorably, compared to 27% who didn't.
Interestingly, 27% of evangelicals said that Barack Obama's religious views would make them less likely to vote for him, which may reflect a mistaken view that Obama is a Muslim. Twenty-two percent said Hillary Clinton’s faith made them less likely to support her.
Full results of the survey can be found at: http://www.beliefnet.com/News/Politics/2008/01/Beliefnet-Poll-Evangelicals-Still-Conservative-But-Defy-Issue-Stereotypes.aspx
- Evangelicals Favor Huckabee on GOP Side, Warmth for McCain, Still Largely Undecided -
- Among Democrats, Evangelicals Prefer Obama to Clinton -