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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.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

"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. History Bear

    Let god take care of god's business and man take care of mans. A supposedly "godly" man or woman usually isn't and I'm not swayed by their professions of faith, but by their ideas and actions. In that respect both sides field light weights this year.

    April 27, 2012 at 11:24 am |
  2. Portland tony

    If it hadn't been for the press...most of this religious posturing would have gone unnoticed. The only way Republicans could get "serious" press time was to mention "holy words" because any time they addressed a real issue they were ridiculed. Now that the clowns on both sides have narrowed their act down to just two candidates, the real show is about to begin.

    April 27, 2012 at 11:24 am |
  3. Realistic85

    God has no business in politics, unless they are going to legalize child molestation... If that was the case they would need to bring the church in as an expert in the area.

    April 27, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • kenny

      it would have been priceless if after the repugs had a bunch a religious guys talked about birth control that the women's caucus called a bunch of nuns in to discuss preventing priests from diddling kids... lmao...

      April 27, 2012 at 11:37 am |
  4. The Hungry Troll

    I would have voted for Osama Bin Laden for president if he had renounced Islam, apologized, and said that the world would be a better place without religion (provided of course that he could meet necessary citizenship requirements... oh, and if he weren't dead).

    April 27, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • Huebert

      lol

      April 27, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
  5. nibiru

    I'm sick of sick unholy people and liberals too

    April 27, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • Youre wrong

      And you sir are a fool. raised by fools, following fools, and you're going to die a fool. That voice in your head is not god...you just need help.

      April 27, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • crazypete

      How do you know who to be sick of? Only God can judge holiness. Are you claiming that you are God?

      April 27, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • tony

      Pile on the Piety. That should help feed the hungry and gainfully employ the poor.

      April 27, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • sam stone

      I am sick and tired of pompous a$$es and morton downey jr wannabe rightwing phucknuts

      April 27, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
  6. Brandon

    An old man once told me "the bible gave us 10 laws. And then man tried to find loopholes around it by making more laws."

    April 27, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • tony

      Only the first 10 commandments were written on Earth. The rest and all the updates are written in the Stars. See Genesis.1:14

      April 27, 2012 at 11:27 am |
  7. Colin

    If Jesus, Poseidon, or the Devil could help balance a budget, then I would be all for faith in politics. However, since none of these beings can be proven to exist then I think that faith is irrelevant, and quite frankly has become an enormous embarrassment, when it comes to deciding who should be the leaders of our nation.

    April 27, 2012 at 11:18 am |
  8. Brandon

    I will only vote for a Christian President. This country was founded on christianity and should stay that way.

    April 27, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • Ronin

      Except it wasn't. Even the Founding Fathers weren't that stupid.

      April 27, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • Colin

      I will only vote for politicians who promise to sacrifice goats to almighty Zeus. We need to stay on His good side if we are to have a bountiful harvest this year.

      April 27, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • History Bear

      Another uneducated individual who believe the pap put out by organized religion. Good luck with life buddy, you are going to need it.

      April 27, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • kdpdx

      I will only vote for whatever candidate practices Voodoo

      April 27, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Ask yourself why they created a Consti.tution with absolutely no mention of god and in which 6 of the ten commandments are forbidden to be enforced by law.

      Frankly, breaking the 10th commandment is the basis for our economy.

      April 27, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • tony

      No it wasn't , but you emmigrate to a country that was and have a much happier life. Spain, or the Vatican perhaps?

      April 27, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • 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 11:30 am |
    • Primewonk

      Brandon – can you let us know what Article VI Section 3 of the US Consti.tution says? How about Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli?

      Also, please go through an online version of our Consti.tution and copypasta back here the parts of your bible that are in my consti.tution.

      Thanks.

      I'll be waiting.

      April 27, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • Huebert

      shhhhh, stop bring up all these unpleasant facts. You'll scare Brandon away.

      April 27, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • Brandon

      I'm praying for all of you. I hope all of you can connect and change your ways. I can't believe so many people would bash God.

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

      My god wields a hammer. Your god was nailed to a piece of wood.

      My god promised to get rid of the Frost Giants. Your god promised to get rid of wiked people. Do you see any Frost Giants?

      April 27, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • BJD0012

      Look up your history, our nation was founded by diest's for the most part. What does electing a Christain with apparent high moral values do anyway, it gets you in 2 wars. One, with a completely fabricated justification and another that has been going on for over a decade now because he went off to fight the other, without actually taking care of the first. I dont want a president who is a christian, I want a president that does what is best for our country, regardless of what faith he/she alignes themsleves with. That is a large part of why our nation is in the situation it is in now. instead of looking at a guys track record, ie W's, a tone of people wanted to vote for the guy who would outlaw gay marriage and abortion. Look what that got you, the worst economy since the depression and of course there are no laws on the books at the federal level outlawing gay marriage or abortion. So you voted for a guy that either lied or didn't have the conviciton to stand up for what he believed in. Just vote for teh guy that you believ can get this economy moving again. Forget about faith and religion for a minute.

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

      Interesting...
      "Of all the tyrannies that affect mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst." Thomas Paine
      "Lighthouses are more helpful than churches." -in Poor Richard's Almanac
      "The Bible is not my book, nor Christianity my profession." -Spoken by Abraham Lincoln

      April 27, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • sam stone

      Brandon: Which version of Christianity should be the official one? Baptists? Catholics? Mormons? Orthodox? Methodists? Come on, big mouth....

      This country was not established as a Christian nation, so pull that "holy" book out of your a$$

      April 27, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • sam stone

      I will only vote for politicians who support the Flying Spaghetti Monster

      April 27, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • sam stone

      Brandon: We are not bashing god. We are bashing the arrogant dweebs who purport to speak for god.

      April 27, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • sam stone

      "I'm praying for all of you"

      Get off your knees and be a man.

      April 27, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
  9. Eric

    Faith is a horrible thing. Like the right that says "I have faith that trickle down economics works", and like proof of God, everything we know and observe points to it not being true. I rather the leaders of the country have critical thinking and evidence evaluation skills. Belief in hokey religions and fairy tales shows that our leaders do not have those skills.

    April 27, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • sam stone

      eric: i do not think that faith is a horrible thing. i do think that believing others' definition of god is dumb

      April 27, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
  10. tony

    Jesus of the Bible would the last person to ever start , or even fight, a WAR in the NATIONAL INTEREST. OTOH, every politician we hear from seems itching to do just that.

    April 27, 2012 at 11:17 am |
  11. Peikovianyi

    Tom Paine was an atheist. Ben Franklin was an agnostic. Washington and Jefferson were deists. John Adams was the type of Christian a lot of Christians wouldn't understand (he was the defense attorney for the British soldiers who fired on civilians during the Boston Massacre. They were acquitted.) The use or misuse of religion in politics was well-understood by the Founding Fathers. Favoritism of one denomination over another was a concern. As a result, in America, there are no tests of faith for public office. In private life, each of us is free to waste our own time on our own dime.

    April 27, 2012 at 11:16 am |
  12. coder

    religion is as fake as politics
    if politicians wanted a single strong country – they would work together to achieve that goal
    if religions wanted one single god – they wouldn't be murdering humans for thousands of years to promote "their" version of any god

    April 27, 2012 at 11:15 am |
  13. DT

    YES! Sick to death of it

    April 27, 2012 at 11:11 am |
  14. DeeNYC

    The politicians have to pander to the religious right because that's how they vote. They could care less about policies all they care about is the religious beliefs of the candidate. that's why we keep ending up with bone heads like Bush in office. or any pub for that matter.

    April 27, 2012 at 11:11 am |
  15. guyzer

    people are tired of obama in politics

    April 27, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • Helena Troy

      Not me!

      April 27, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • MarkinFL

      people = 2 or more. So you're statement is accurate.

      people want Obama for 4 more years is equally accurate.

      April 27, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • tony

      Yup, stop the poilitics and let him govern as the majority elected him to do.

      April 27, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • DW

      I could care less what faith a Politician is, what is important to me is if they can do their job or not!

      April 27, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • Realistic85

      I'm tired of your whining...

      April 27, 2012 at 11:22 am |
  16. Jason

    There is a very small, vocal minority who are violently oposed to religion. However a majority of Americans feel that a candidates religion / faith is very important when deciding on who to vote for. Why on earth do you think Obama claims he is a Christian when his actions would indicate otherwise. No other administration has been so hostile to Christianity in the history of this country. For a mojority of Americans religious views determine who they are and thus how they vote. Religion can not be separated from politics.

    April 27, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • Ronin

      Whatever happened to Christianity being the religion of peace I wonder. Just look at Bush, he started 2 massive wars with death totals in the Millions. I imagine that is what Jesus would have wanted lol. And yea, I agree, we could argue Obama is an atheist, but a smart atheist who wouldn't come out and say that.

      April 27, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Though a majority of people claim to believe in a god, it is a definite minority that actually define their life and actions based on those beliefs. I also suggest that the least Christian politicians are usually the ones that claim the loudest to be so.

      April 27, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • marsmotel

      Religion has no place in politics. You can tell anything about a person for their religious beliefs. Being religious or non-religious does not mean you can run a a country. Look at are President now, he stinks, and he talks about religion. Religion is a scare tactic for the weak minded. It is organized schizophrenia. As a leader, do you want them believing in gods, deities, trolls and goblins.

      April 27, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • momoya

      Jason, I think you are largely correct, but just think, every president has been christian, almost every politician is christian–even every candidate from the republican side claimed NOT to believe in evolution.. I'm not sure what more you want..

      April 27, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • Youre wrong

      Its about time someone is hostile to your imaginary friend. The voices in your head sir are not god. You're just a crazy person. I would like Obama even more if he didn't believe in god. Any one who uses a fictional story created by a bunch of men trying to gain control and power over ignorant people its just down right dangerous to the rest of us. The worse thing that ever happened to this planet was creating the idea of "god" then setting a bunch of crazy rules that go with him and having idiots obey those rules. You have a brain try using it.

      April 27, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • tony

      You just defied the 9th Commandment

      April 27, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • Flappy

      Jason, the very statement you made about Obama not being Christian when he most clearly is demonstrates exactly why religion should not be talked about so much in politics. When people use their religion as a cloak of immunity which they feel gives them the right to spread lies about another person's character, well that is just wrong. And its worse than wrong. Its very unChristian to say that a Christian is not a Christian just because you disagree about some particular policy.

      There is a reason for separation of church and state and you demonstrated why that is beautifully.

      April 27, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • The Light Within

      RE: "Why on earth do you think Obama claims he is a Christian when his actions would indicate otherwise."

      America is not a Christian nation and I am appalled at how polluted Christianity has become. Thank God this is not a theocracy. Separation of church and state exists for a reason. Not every "Christian" believes that God is a white man, has a beard, wears a tunic, lives on a cloud, speaks American English, and digs rock-n-roll churches. Not every "Christian" believes that the Bible is to be taken literally. Not every "Christian" believes that Obama is a Muslim, and even if he were, his personal journey would be no "Christian"'s business; Christians are not better than Muslims (or any faith for that matter). I pray that Jesus might open your eyes.

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

      Perhaps President Obama understands that he, like all citizens is enti.tled to hold whatever religious beliefs he wants. But that as President of the US he has no business forcing his personal religious beliefs on anyone else.

      Perhaps, if you, and the other talibangelical tea bagger fundiots had 1/100th the understanding of the Consti.tution as President Obama, you would have known this?

      April 27, 2012 at 11:38 am |
  17. Slingblade

    I like them French fried potaters, mmm hmm.

    April 27, 2012 at 11:09 am |
  18. Billy Bubba Joe Bob

    I don't understand those fancy notions about the economy, foreign policy, taxes und stuff. I dun only read the one book. The only book anybody needs to read ayup. Talk about the Bible and Jesus and I'll vote for you, yes sir.

    April 27, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • tony

      But which version of Christianity? Now there are thousands of different versions of the "One true faith"

      April 27, 2012 at 11:23 am |
  19. clarke

    There is a time and place for everything. I feel religion is a personal thing and I don't want religion mixed with politics, Everyone can believe what they want and pray to what or whom you want, but keep it out of politics. There is no need to carry a religious flag around with you everywhere you go.

    April 27, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • Thelma

      Amen, Clark. I beleive JC said something about prayng in private, don't brag about charitable works and treat the least of your brothers like you would treat Him. We should be able to tell what kind of person someone is by ther behavior, not their words.

      April 27, 2012 at 11:18 am |
  20. Jason

    This world needs GOD more! This issue isn't religion in politics. The issues is men and women telling us that they are God fearing people but there actions are showing us they are greedy, selfish, and aren't trustworthy. I am a Christian and throw religion aside, it seems being politically correct comes before common since and morals these day. What a shame!

    April 27, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • jimtanker

      Greedy, selfish, and not trustworthy? Sounds like just about every xtian that I've ever met or seen on TV.

      April 27, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • jj

      God is an idiot.

      April 27, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • TiredOfBS

      Christianity destroys more mindst than it saves.

      April 27, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • MarkinFL

      If you want to know a politicians REAL faith, just ignore what they say and pay attention to what they do. Then decide if it is compatible with what you believe. It is quite irrelevant what "god" they profess to believe in.

      April 27, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • tony

      Let's have a God given Tsunami every week. Solve the World Hunger problem. . .

      April 27, 2012 at 11:24 am |
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About this blog

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.