By Aaron Earls
During yesterday’s Super Tuesday election, almost half of churchgoers probably couldn’t guess in which political party primary their pastor voted.
Pew Research found 45% of U.S. adults who attend religious services a few times a year or more say they are not sure whether the clergy at their congregation are Democrats or Republicans.
Roughly a quarter (27%) say the pastors at their church are a mix of both.
When congregants think they know their church leaders’ political preference, 16% say their pastors are mostly Republicans and 11% say they are mostly Democrats.
Still, most churchgoers (62%) say they share their pastors’ views on politics, with 28% saying they generally disagree with their pastors. Evangelical Protestants (76%) are most likely to say they agree, followed by black Protestant (65%), mainline Protestant (58%), and Catholics (53%).
When asked about their fellow churchgoers, 51% believe most people at their church share their political views, 19% disagree and 30% are not sure, according to a Lifeway Research study.
Americans are split on whether they would prefer to attend a church where people share their political views—46% agree and 42% disagree.
In reality, Lifeway Research found 48% of evangelicals by belief say they are a Republican, 31% are a Democrat, and 21% say they’re an Independent or something else outside of the two major political parties.
Only 9% of churchgoers say they would leave their current congregation over politics, according to Lifeway Research.
Still, one of the most frequent reasons young adults who drop out of church give for ending their church attendance is disagreeing with the church’s stance on political or social issues.
According to Pew, most churchgoers are fine with the amount they hear about politics from the pulpit.
Around 7 in 10 churchgoers (72%) say the sermons at their church have about the right amount discussions of politics. Close to 1 in 10 say there is too much politics (11%), while 14% say there’s not enough.
As a whole, Americans (76%) do not want churches endorsing specific candidates, including majorities of every religious group, according to Pew.
A previous Lifeway Research survey found 79% of Americans do not believe it is appropriate for pastors to publicly endorse a politician during a church service.
They are more divided over whether or not the church should lose their tax-exempt status if the pastor does endorse—52% disagree and 42% agree.
In the past, Lifeway Research has found the vast majority of pastors do not want to endorse and have not endorsed candidates, but they also do not believe the IRS should be able to punish their church if they do.
A 2017 Lifeway Research survey found 73% of pastors believe Congress should remove the IRS’ power to penalize a church because of the content of its pastor’s sermon.
AARON EARLS (@WardrobeDoor) is online editor for Facts & Trends.