Beliefnet
Feiler Faster

So far, God seems to be the big loser in the ’08 election. Defying every prognostication, the candidates leading in the polls — Rudy and Hillary — are viewed as the least religious. And the “most religious” candidate on the scene these days, not Bush, but Romney. Maybe his ploy to say that being religious is more important than what you believe is working. Or maybe his ploy to be as vague as possible has yet to come home to roost. If I were an Evangelical Republican, I would be concerned that Romney has not addressed the hard questions about the role his faith plays in politics and would fear that it won’t come out until after he’s gotten the nomination.

Among people who offer an opinion of the religiosity of leading Democrats, more say that John Edwards (28%) and Barack Obama (24%) are very religious pew08.gifthan say the same about Hillary Clinton (16%). Yet wide majorities see all three as at least somewhat religious, and those who do view the candidates in overwhelmingly favorable terms.
Similarly, just 14% who offer an opinion see Rudy Giuliani as very religious, but another 63% see him as somewhat religious, and both groups offer comparably favorable assessments of the former New York City mayor. Mitt Romney stands apart from the other candidates tested – nearly half (46%) of those who express an opinion say Romney is very religious; that is roughly the same number saying that George W. Bush is very religious (43%), though many more people express an opinion about Bush’s religiosity than Romney’s. However, a quarter of Americans – Democrat, independent and Republican alike – say they would be less likely to vote for a presidential candidate who is Mormon. And those who say this have substantially less favorable impressions of Mitt Romney.
In general, being a Mormon is viewed as far less of a liability for a presidential candidate than not believing in God or being a Muslim. Roughly six-in-ten Americans (61%) say they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who does not believe in God, while 45% say they would be reluctant to vote for a Muslim. At the same time, more people express reservations about voting for a Mormon (25%) than about supporting a candidate who is an evangelical Christian (16%), a Jew (11%) or a Catholic (7%).

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