By Helen Gibson
Democrats and Republicans may seem to be polar opposites on just about every issue.
But in terms of religious beliefs, segments of these groups have more in common than what meets the eye, Pew Research shows.
Pew’s survey found that nonwhite Democrats’ religious beliefs are more closely aligned with the religious beliefs of white Republicans than those of white Democrats.
Belief in God
One area where this is evident is the percentage of respondents who say they believe in God or a higher power. Among nonwhite Democrats, most of whom identify as black or Hispanic, and those whose lean Democratic, 95 percent say they believe in God or a higher power.
“This is exactly the same level of belief seen among Republicans and Republican leaners,” the Pew analysis notes.
Meanwhile, only 78 percent of white Americans who are Democrats or lean Democratic say they believe in God or a higher power.
Similarities in the religious beliefs of white Republicans and nonwhite Democrats are present on other questions, too. Sixty-four percent of nonwhite Democrats and 67 percent of white Republicans say they believe in a God or higher power who is all-knowing, all-loving, and all-powerful. However, only 35 percent of white Democrats agree.
And 61 percent of nonwhite Democrats say they believe in the God of the Bible—almost double the percentage of white Democrats (32 percent) who say the same—while 72 percent of white Republicans claim belief in the biblical God.
That study found that 61 percent of all Republicans and 62 percent of nonwhite Democrats say religion is “very important” to them, compared to 35 percent of white Democrats who say the same.
Among both Republicans and nonwhite Democrats, 62 percent say they pray daily, while only 40 percent of white Democrats say they pray every day.
And Republicans and nonwhite Democrats attend church at least weekly at somewhat comparable rates, with 39 percent of nonwhite Democrats and 44 percent of Republicans saying they attend church once a week or more. Only 22 percent of Democrats say they attend church at least weekly.
Previous Pew research has shown that black Americans are more likely to be Christian—and specifically, Protestant—than the overall public. Black Americans have also been characterized as America’s most Bible-engaged ethnic group.
Churches lacking diversity
Despite similarities in the religious beliefs of white Republicans and nonwhite Democrats, a lack of racial diversity persists within many churches.
Eighty-one percent of Protestant pastors say their church mainly consists of one racial or ethnic group, according to a recent study from Lifeway Research.
Still, 93 percent of Protestant pastors say every church should strive for racial diversity. That’s up eight percentage points from 2013, when Lifeway Research conducted a similar study.
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HELEN GIBSON (@_HelenGibson_) is a freelance writer in Cadiz, Kentucky.