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Posted June 22, 2004

The Ever Present Question of the Church and Politics

Time Magazine Survey Results on Catholics and the Presidential Candidates

Catholics split evenly between the Democratic and Republican candidates for president, Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts and President Bush. Those of all denominations who say they are "very religious" favor Bush over Kerry by 59 percent to 35 percent, while respondents who consider themselves "not religious" chose Kerry over Bush by a margin of 69 percent to 22 percent.

Forty-five percent of Catholics indicate they support Kerry. Forty-three percent say they support Bush.

Nearly three-quarters of the Catholic respondents disagreed that Catholic politicians who don’t support the Catholic Church's position on abortion shouldn’t receive Communion, while 21 percent agreed with that position.

More than three-quarters of respondents said the Catholic Church's opposition to abortion doesn’t influence on how they vote, while 19.8 percent said it made them less likely to vote for candidates in favor of legal abortion.

Nearly one-third of respondents said the church's opposition to same-sex marriage makes them less likely to vote for a candidate who supports same-sex marriage, while 64.9 percent said it makes no difference.

Seventy-nine percent of Catholics said the Church's opposition to the death penalty has no influence on how they vote. Eighteen percent said it would make them less likely to support a candidate who favored capital punishment.

Seventy percent of Catholics said the Church should not influence their voting. Twenty-six percent said it should.

More than half of the respondents said they agreed with the statement: "We are a religious nation and religious values should serve as a guide to what our political leaders do in office." Some thirty-nine percent disagreed, and 5.4 percent said they were not sure.

But 89 percent said they had never voted for or against a candidate "mainly because of the candidate's religious beliefs," while 9.5 percent said they had done so.

Asked to identify the religious affiliation of the two major candidates, only 7.2 percent correctly named Bush's denomination as Methodist, while 33.2 percent correctly identified Kerry as a Catholic. Fully 65 percent said they did not know Bush's religious affiliation and 64.7 percent said they did not know Kerry's.

Catholics also were asked whether the term "conservative Catholic," "centrist or middle-of-the-road Catholic" or "liberal Catholic" best described them. Twenty-one percent chose conservative, 34.1 percent said they were centrists and 39 percent selected liberal. The remaining 5.9 percent said they were not sure.

Among all respondents, 27 percent described themselves as "very religious," 47.1 percent said they were "somewhat" religious, 11.9 percent said "not too" religious, 12.4 percent chose "not at all" religious and 1.8 percent said they were not sure.