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As politicians talk more about faith, voters seem to want less
President Barack Obama at a White House Easter prayer breakfast in April.
April 27th, 2012
09:48 AM ET

As politicians talk more about faith, voters seem to want less

Editor's note: Listen to the CNN Radio broadcast about the debate: By Lisa Desjardins, CNN

Washington (CNN) – Is Washington a holy city? It might seem that way, with all the talk about religion and morality in the 2012 election.

But all that God talk may be rubbing voters the wrong way.

"It's getting ugly out there," said Tim King, an evangelical Christian who works for the progressive religious group Sojourners. "There are a lot of Christians who are using their faith as a political weapon, which it's never meant to be."

King, who calls himself "politically homeless," says that while both parties talk about faith and invoke Scripture, he and other young evangelicals he knows sense an undercurrent of political gamesmanship in all the religious talk.

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"You don't get to win the argument because you have more Bible verses," he told CNN Radio. "You need to make the case about why your policies are good for everyone."

King is part of what looks like a national shift. In March, the Pew Forum for Religion and Public Life saw a first in its ten years of polling: the largest group of voters in its survey, 38%, said that politicians are talking about religion "too much" right now.

"In fact, we saw an all-time high number of people taking that view," said Greg Smith, one of the researchers who produced the Pew report.

The survey found that 30% of Americans think politicians talk "too little" about faith and that 25% said it's the "right amount."

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There is a political factor, with twice as many Democrats saying politicians talk too much about religion as Republicans. But both parties saw sharp increases in the number of voters who want to hear less about religion from politicians.

Religious talk played a big role in recent elections, with Barack Obama distancing himself form his longtime pastor in 2008 and George W. Bush benefitting from a surge in so-called values voters in 2004.

“I think morality is being talked about a lot more in 2012," said David Brody, chief political correspondent for the Christian Broadcasting Network.

"Not necessarily religion, but now we've seen the budget cloaked in moral terms by Roman Catholic (Congressman) Paul Ryan and by Catholics who think he's wrong, on moral grounds," he said. "Immorality has been invoked a lot more in 2012."

Brody noted another possible factor, saying that many voters question the sincerity of how some candidates talk about faith.

"There are some (politicians) who are natural when they talk about faith," Brody said, "there are other politicians who may do it more for political purposes."

For now, it seems that the more politicians talk about religion, the more voters want them to stop such talk.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 2012 Election • Politics

soundoff (507 Responses)
  1. Duane - St. Pete FLA

    I’m a GOP’er and an atheist which does not set well with some other GOP’ers. I normally do not agree with most that comes out of CNN and it’s left leaning coverage of issues and their continued picking and choosing stories that strive to make black America the victims (when in fact they are lucky to live here), but this I do agree with. God, Allah and the like and cute little stories that no one in their right mind would believe. Burning talking bush’s, walking on water, flying monkey’s (wait that’s the wizard of OZ) all to me are silly stories but if people want to believe than more power to them….just keep the talk out of politics.

    April 27, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • doughnuts

      The white sheet is very slimming and the hood really brings out your eyes.

      April 27, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>"I’m a GOP’er and an atheist which does not set well with some other GOP’ers. :

      Hah... That's nothing compared to some of the Atheist here that are caught in an internal struggle to accept you because of being a Atheist but would have to count a person who appears to be proud of being a Republican, in their ranks.

      From a Black Republican.... I understand where you are coming from. :)

      April 27, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • momoya

      @Mark

      So you're only now coming to terms with what we atheists have told you four dozen times?? That being an atheist has nothing to do with political affiliation or any other views the atheist holds.

      April 27, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
  2. Dave

    One of the major tenants of Christianity is to be humble, a trait not often shown by politicians. I believe to succeed in politics and to be a devout Christian is an oxymoron, and anyone who believes them is just a moron.

    April 27, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • YeahRight

      "One of the major tenants of Christianity is to be humble, a trait not often shown by politicians. I believe to succeed in politics and to be a devout Christian is an oxymoron, and anyone who believes them is just a moron."

      Or CEO's, Presidents of companies, VP of companies

      But wait....the Pope is involved in politics all the time so he qualifies too!

      April 27, 2012 at 11:54 am |
  3. DefyTheGods

    I'll just let my screen name speak for me. LOL

    April 27, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Ok Achilles. Or are you going for the Perseus angle?

      April 27, 2012 at 11:50 am |
  4. WisdomVS

    Politics and religion are actually a good pair up. Both deceive people to think they'll get what they want and need.

    April 27, 2012 at 11:43 am |
  5. Qev

    YES. You've got your "God(s)", and then you've got your Caesar. Me? I pay taxes to Caesar, so...

    April 27, 2012 at 11:43 am |
  6. JPX

    I know that I'm sick of "God" in politics. There is nothing less appealing than listning to idiots waste time discussing make-believe (i.e. religion). I feel sorry for Obama who has to pretend to care about Bronze Age thinking.

    April 27, 2012 at 11:43 am |
  7. doughnuts

    “When fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in the flag and waving a cross.”

    April 27, 2012 at 11:42 am |
  8. DrewNumberTwo

    Why is this article only about religious people who are sick of religion in politics? We atheists are sick of it, too!

    April 27, 2012 at 11:42 am |
  9. tony

    I'd prefer none. Less is just letting the fantasy and it's insane followers sneak back under the carpet

    April 27, 2012 at 11:40 am |
  10. An Agnostic

    Every chance you have, ask a politician who is running on his religion the hard question: "Do you really think that (then fill in the blank)?" Make them squirm replying to the gold plates from aliens, the 'profet', virgin birth, etc. They will squirm if you keep them on the question. Great entertainment !

    April 27, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • momoya

      Now that's what I'm talkin about!!

      April 27, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      Bahhhh, that would require journalists to do their job and ask tough questions.

      April 27, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
  11. tony

    Religion exists, so that a politiican can overide his concience, and order others to do the same, without feeling bad about it.

    April 27, 2012 at 11:38 am |
  12. joe in ca

    what ever happened to the separation of church and state???? that is what our founding fathers left their homelands for and 2 centuries later they're right back in the same mess. the republicans brought this into play when reagan sold his sole, or what he had, just to get elected. ever since all the republicans have brought up faith based this, and MORALLY worng that. they are just as much immoral as all the people out there. time to ditch ALL the religions when it comes to politics and get back to basics of what works for the people!!

    April 27, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • NoTea4Me

      It depends upon whether your in the religious majority or minority..

      April 27, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
  13. amy

    YES.

    April 27, 2012 at 11:37 am |
  14. miriam

    YES!!!!!!!!! there is no place for religion in politics especially in the USA

    April 27, 2012 at 11:36 am |
  15. Smart Human

    Are voters sick of god in politics? H#LL YES! These religious nutjobs keep ignoring the separation of church and state and get no penalties. Fine them, arrest them, muzzle them! I don't care how, just SHUT THEM UP!

    April 27, 2012 at 11:36 am |
  16. chicago7

    Politicians who are self-serving and want to benefit the 1%, which includes themselves, can't get into power just with the support of other rich people alone, because there aren't enough of them. In order to get a large number of people whom they regard as undereducated, easily led sheep to vote against their own best interests, they push emotional buttons, invoking images of Jesus and helpless babies, to make voters think this is what they stand for and want to protect. These politicians couldn't care less about social matters and don't embrace these professed "ideals" in their own private lives. It's pure cold, calculated manipulation with the goals of getting their hands on power and money. It's he11ishly simple.

    April 27, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • Molly

      Chicago7 –WOW -I concur–let's hear more–much more!

      April 27, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • Ol' Yeller

      Oh absolutely, given the chance to end abortion tomorrow with a straight up vote you would see the republicans sweating bullets and finding every reason known to man to not hold the vote, to get out of voting, to kill the bill due to font size, or some other ridiculous measure. That would be like killing the Goose that laid the Golden Egg. With abortion being legal they can always rally those single issue voters. If that goes away, so goes the rallying cry for those votes. They will NEVER do it and that has been proven time and again....

      April 27, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
  17. Patrick

    "Are voters sick of God in politics?"

    Yes, for 241 years and counting.

    April 27, 2012 at 11:36 am |
  18. desstro

    All the christian conservatives want is to hijack the country by forcing their beliefs on all. America is a country of the free. Not a country of the religious. Jesus had nothing to do with creating America.

    April 27, 2012 at 11:35 am |
  19. Ricky

    This country was founded on the idea of separating church and state, and I only vote for candidates that respect that separation. During the first 70 years, Congress worked during Christmas day if it was a week day, to show they did not favor any religion. That is the American way, then the European Catholics and Evangelists immigrants started to change that. We have to go back to the way our founder fathers treated religion, as private matter that was not to be mixed with politics...

    April 27, 2012 at 11:35 am |
  20. chicago7

    Politicians who are self-serving and want to benefit the 1%, which includes themselves, can't get into power just with the support of other rich people alone, because there aren't enough of them. In order to get a large number of people whom they regard as undereducated, easily led sheep to vote against their own best interests, they push emotional buttons, invoking images of Jesus and helpless babies, to make voters think this is what they stand for and want to protect. These politicians couldn't care less about social matters and don't embrace these professed "ideals" in their own private lives. It's pure cold, calculated manipulation with the goals of getting their hands on power and money. It's hellishly simple.

    April 27, 2012 at 11:34 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.