Bible thumpers abandon GOP

Religious fanatics, the cornerstone of Republican support, are jumping off the GOP’s sinking ship.

The number of people who consider the Republican Party friendly to religion has dipped below half in the last year, with sharp declines among white evangelicals and white Catholics.

But even with defection of Bible thumpers, the GOP remains far more closely tied to religion than the Democratic Party.

The number of people who consider the GOP friendly to religion dropped from 55 percent to 47 percent — with a 14-point drop among white evangelical conservatives and an 11-point drop among white Catholics, according to the poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

Only a fourth, 26 percent, considered the Democratic Party friendly to religion — about the same as last year.

Religious voters have been a key voting bloc in recent elections with the most devout Protestant, Catholic and evangelical voters leaning strongly toward Republicans.

“The Republicans had done a good job of mobilizing those two groups in 2004 and that may be cooling a bit now,” said Scott Keeter of the Pew Research Center said, referring to white evangelicals and white Catholics

Bush got 78 percent of the white evangelical vote and 56 percent of the white Catholic vote in 2004, according to exit polls.

The survey found that about four in 10 Christians identify themselves as “born again” Christians or evangelicals, while a third describe themselves as “progressive Christians.” The conservative Christians are a far more unified group politically than the progressives, however.

The poll of 2,003 adults was conducted July 6-19 in cooperation with the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.


Associated Press Writers Will Lester and Donna De La Cruz in Washington contributed to this report.


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