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Poll: Sermons don’t affect opinions on Iraqi War • Thursday March 20, 2003

AP, Mar. 20, 2003
By RICHARD N. OSTLING, AP Religion Writer

Americans are little influenced by sermons and religious pronouncements about war but few resent clergy activism, a poll released Wednesday found.

The Washington-based Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found only 10 percent of Americans said religious beliefs were the strongest influence on their thinking, though that increased to 17 percent among people who attend worship at least monthly (54 percent of respondents).

The survey questioned 1,032 adults from last Thursday through Sunday and had a margin of error of up to 5 percentage points, depending on the question.

Religion has considerably more impact on issues like abortion, same-sex marriage and capital punishment than on whether the nation should go to war, past Pew surveys show.

However, a third of Americans said religious leaders had at least “some influence” on them, compared with 7 percent who said they were influenced by Hollywood celebrities.

Only 15 percent of Americans thought religious leaders have been saying too much about the war while 32 percent thought they’ve said too little. The latter view was strongest among war opponents.

Among the regular churchgoers, 21 percent said their own minister had taken a position, with anti-war clergy outnumbering those behind the president by a 2-to-1 margin.

The pattern reflected national religious pronouncements, with Roman Catholics, white mainline Protestants and black Protestants hearing mostly anti-war sermons and white evangelical Protestants receiving pro-war views.

Support for war to remove Saddam Hussein ran as follows: evangelicals (77 percent in favor), Catholics (62 percent), mainline Protestants (62 percent), black Protestants (36 percent) and nonreligious citizens (44 percent).

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