By Deborah Bruce
In the last days before the mid-term election, let's look at the intersection of faith and politics. The U.S. Congregational Life Survey asked several questions that reveal how worshipers, pastors, and congregations are involved in the political sphere.
Worshipers vote. Eight in ten worshipers (83%) reported voting in the last presidential election. In contrast, only about six in ten eligible Americans (62%) voted for president in 2008. (Read more about this difference)
Voting is particularly common among worshipers attending mainline Protestant churches—nine in ten worshipers in mainline churches (89%) voted in 2008. Eight in ten worshipers in conservative Protestant churches (83%) and in Catholic parishes (78%) voted that year.
Worshipers donate. Far fewer worshipers (16%) said they contributed money to a political party or candidate running for office during the 2008 campaign. More mainline Protestant worshipers (23%) than conservative Protestant (11%) or Catholic worshipers (12%) made political contributions in 2008.
Pastors vote. More pastors than worshipers voted in 2008. Nine in ten pastors of congregations participating in the U.S. Congregational Life Survey voted (Catholics, 94%; mainline Protestants, 96%; conservative Protestants, 97%).
Pastors donate. Pastors contributed to political parties or candidates slightly more often than worshipers (Catholics, 14%; mainline Protestants, 33%; conservative Protestants, 18%).
Congregations inform their worshipers. Four in ten congregations (38%) informed people during worship services about opportunities to register to vote. Half of Catholic parishes did so (54%). Fewer conservative Protestant (43%) or mainline Protestant (30%) churches let their worshipers know about voter registration.
Two in ten congregations held voter registration drives or voter education events in their facilities during the 2008 campaign. More Catholic parishes (44%) than conservative Protestant (24%) or mainline Protestant (13%) churches did so.