WASHINGTON, Nov. 8 (UPI) - GOP candidate George W. Bush garnered the votes of regular churchgoers in Tuesday's presidential election. But that's where the unity between the faithful ends. Politically, Christians are still deeply split along racial divides.

In key states, worshippers who attend religious services more than once a week favored Bush by impressive margins, according to early exit polls: Sixty-four percent in California, 60 percent in Pennsylvania, 52 percent in Florida, for example.

Even of the voters who go to church only once a week a majority preferred the Texas governor: Fifty-four percent in California, and 52 percent each in Pennsylvania and Florida. Taken together, both groups make up a substantial chunk of the electorates in their respective states. In Pennsylvania, they amount to a staggering 46 percent.

One notable exception was in New York, where 56 percent of all weekly churchgoers were in Vice President Al Gore's camp.

The problem is that New York excepted, some unity in their support for Bush seemed to prevail chiefly between white Protestants and white Catholics.

However, that support was much weaker among Catholics than among Protestants. In Florida, 52 percent of the former and 64 percent of the latter voted for the Texas Governor. In California and in New York, eight out of 10 Jews chose Gore.

While common concerns about moral issues, such as abortion, might have forged a semblance of unity between white evangelicals and Catholics, such concerns have not transcended ethnic barriers.

African-Americans, Catholic or Protestant, turned to Gore by margins of 80-90 percent, even though they are the most religious of all Americans, as pollster George Barna has shown before Tuesday's vote.

These results lead observers of America's religious scene to a somewhat pessimistic conclusion about the fate of a vision by Ralph Reed, the former executive director of the Christian Coalition: He had championed a conservative political collaboration between Catholics and evangelicals, but this alliance is at best feeble.

Two years ago, Steven Wagner, head of QEV Analytics, a Washington polling group, explained why this might be so. In an article in Crisis, a Catholic periodical, he pointed out that traditional Catholics are on the whole not really conservatives.

They are neither anti-government nor do they favor indiscriminate budget cuts or unbridled free markets. Yet, like conservative evangelicals, they believe in an absolute standard of morality and resolutely resist the claim of a moral right to do wrong. Wagner calls this claim "a central tenet of contemporary liberalism."

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