Summary: This mornings post looks at America’s deeds and asked Is America a Christian nation? Now we look at the polls for answers to that question, and find that America has a strong Christian core. They tend to vote Republican, believe in Creationism, and approve of torture. (2nd of 2 posts today.)
— John 11:35
- How many Americans believe in Creationism?
- How many Americans believe torture is good?
- How many Americans regularly attend church?
- For More Information
(1) How many Americans believe in Creationism?
Gallup has been polling American’s belief in evolution since 1982. Here are their results. A solid 42% give the standard Christian answer, a number stable since 1982.
(2) How many Americans believe torture is good?
Lots. A December 9 Pew Research report sums up the polls. Roughly 1/2 of Americans — and over 2/3 of Republicans — believe torture is “sometimes or often” justified.
Opinion has shifted since then, with more Americans finding torture acceptable. In August 2011, a narrow majority (53%) of Americans said the use of torture could be often or sometimes justified, while 42% said it could only rarely be justified or not be justified at all.
A more recent poll by Associated Press/NORC conducted in August 2013 found similar results. Half said the use of torture could sometimes or often be justified while 47% said it could rarely or never be justified.
But polling has found that there are differences along party lines with Republicans more supportive than Democrats of torture with suspected terrorists. In our 2011 survey, a substantial majority of Republicans (71%) said torture could be at least sometimes justified, compared with 51% of independents and 45% of Democrats. In the AP/NORC poll, 66% of Republicans backed use of torture in dealing with terrorists compared with 53% of independents and 39% of Democrats.
That September 2013 AP-NORC poll showed that Republicans have little interest in our Constitutional, treaty, and legal prohibitions against torture.
Other polls give us another perspective on the Americans who approve torture. From an article by Sara Posner in Religious Dispatches, 16 December 2014:
A new Washington Post/ABC News poll finds that Americans, by a 59-31% margin, believe that CIA “treatment of suspected terrorists” in detention was justified.
A plurality deemed that “treatment” to be “torture,” by a 49-38% margin.
Remarkably, the gap between torture supporters and opponents widens between voters who are Christian and those who are not religious. Just 39% of white evangelicals believe the CIA’s treatment of detainees amounted to torture, with 53% of white non-evangelical Protestants and 45% of white Catholics agreeing with that statement. Among the non-religious, though, 72% said the treatment amounted to torture. (The poll did not break down non-Christian religions in the results.)
Sixty nine percent of white evangelicals believe the CIA treatment was justified, compared to just 20% who said it was not. (Those numbers, incidentally, roughly mirror the breakdown of Republican versus Democratic voters among white evangelicals.) A full three-quarters (75%) of white non-evangelical Protestants outnumber the 22% of their brethren in saying CIA treatment was justified. White Catholics believe the treatment was justified by a 66-23% margin.
But a majority of non-religious adults, 53%, believe the CIA actions were not justified, with 41% of the non-religious saying the treatment was justified.
(3) How many Americans regularly attend church?
This gives us a basis for comparison with the above numbers. Polls give us tentative answers: roughly 1 in 3 Americans go weekly, another 1/3 go 1 to 12 times per year. For details see “What surveys say about worship attendance – and why some stay home“, Pew Research, 13 December 2013.
- “Self-reported church attendance has varied between 37% and 49% since 1950“, Gallup, 24 December 2013
- “Study: “I Know What You Did Last Sunday” Finds Americans Significantly Inflate Religious Participation“, Public Religion Research Institute, 17 May 2014
(4) For More Information
Other posts about Christianity:
- Should we fear that religion whose believers have killed so many people?, 4 August 2010
- Wisdom of Rush Limbaugh: Are *YOU* a good Christian, like Joseph Kony of the Lord’s Resistance Army?, 16 October 2011 — If Obama’s against them, Rush is for them.
- God and the Tea Party Movement, 30 March 2012
- The difference between Christianity & Libertarianism marks a line between America & the New America, 11 February 2013
- Is America a Christian nation?, 19 December 2014
- The polls tell us America is a Christian nation, with a Republican, Creationist, pro-torture heartland, 19 December 2014