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U.S. 'Satisfied' With Religion's Public Role, But More Want Less

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WASHINGTON -- For the third consecutive year, the number of Americans calling for less religious influence in public life exceeded the number of Americans who want more, according to a new Gallup poll.

Most Americans, however, remain "generally satisfied" with organized religion's role in the U.S., the survey round.

Nearly 40 percent of Americans say religion's level of influence "in the nation" should not change, 32 percent would like it to have less influence and 27 percent would like it to have more, according to the survey. Weekly churchgoers are much more likely to agree that religion should have greater influence on government and politics than those who go to church less frequently, the survey found.

Opinions also tended to shift depending on political affiliation.

Some 41 percent of Democrats believed religion should have less impact, while 43 percent of Republicans felt it should have more.

During President Bush's first term, 2001 through 2004, more Americans believed the role of religion should increase than wanted its influence to fade. But by 2003, the numbers began to shift, and by 2005 a greater number of Americans believed religion should have less influence on public life.

The number of Americans who think religion should have less impact has increased 10 percentage points since 2001, according to Gallup.

The Gallup Poll of 1,018 adults was conducted between Jan. 15 and Jan. 18, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.



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