Do churches and religious organizations have a positive impact on the way things are going in the United States?
Americans are divided on that point, according to a Pew Research Center survey released on July 10 that shows they align along predictable party lines.
Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of Republicans, or those who lean Republican, said church and religious organizations have a positive impact, with 14 percent saying that impact is negative, according to Pew.
Meanwhile, Democrats are split: Half of those who are, or lean, Democrat believe religious institutions have a positive impact, according to the survey, while 36 percent said they have a negative impact.
And those divides become stronger as one’s political ideology becomes stronger, particularly among Democrats, according to the data.
Liberal Democrats are about as likely to say religious organizations have a negative impact on the way things are going in the U.S. (44 percent) as they are positive (40 percent). But more conservative and moderate Democrats said churches have a positive effect on the country (58 percent, compared to 29 percent who say it is negative).
A majority of all Republicans — 75 percent of those who identify as conservative Republicans and Republican-leaning, and 68 percent of those who are moderate and liberal Republicans — said churches have a positive impact.
Overall, a majority of Americans overall (59 percent) see religion as a positive, compared to 26 percent who say it has a negative impact on the way things are going in the U.S., according to Pew. Those numbers have held fairly steady in surveys since 2010.
The Pew survey also found Republicans increasingly said colleges and universities have a negative impact on the U.S. (58 percent, up from 45 last year). Also, the partisan gap in views on the news media has widened, with 85 percent of Republicans reporting a negative view of the media’s effects, compared to 46 percent of Democrats.
Pew surveyed 2,504 American adults by phone between June 8 and June 18. The margin of error for the survey overall is plus or minus 2.3 percentage points, it said.