College students say religion plays an important role in their lives, but they don’t want to see more religion in the political arena, according to a recent survey.
The poll, released in April by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, showed that 36 percent of students “strongly disagreed” with the statement that, “Religious values should play a more important role in government.” Twenty-four percent disagreed somewhat.
Respondents, however, divided along partisan lines. The poll showed that 38 percent of Republicans believe religion should play a greater role in government as opposed to only 16 percent of Democrats. Fifty-six percent of GOP students said they want to hear politicians talk openly about their religious beliefs, while only 21 percent of college Democrats agree.
Sixty-two percent of Republicans said religion is losing its influence on American life and an overwhelming majority of them said that was a bad thing. Conversely, 54 percent of Democrats believe that religion is increasing its influence on American life and by a two to one margin say that is a bad thing.
The students were also asked whether they believed religious groups should campaign for candidates for public office. Twenty-nine percent strongly disagreed and 26 percent disagreed somewhat. (Only 5 percent strongly agreed, and 11 percent agreed somewhat.)
Thirty-four percent of students said they give no consideration to a candidate’s religion in determining whom to vote for. Twenty-five percent of the respondents said they give “a little” consideration to the candidate’s religious leanings.