Pew: Religion Sharply Divides Democrats Along Racial Lines

Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The notorious divide between Republicans and Democrats on the issue of religion is actually between Republicans and white Democrats, a new Pew Research Center study reveals, with non-white Democrats more closely resembling the GOP.

While Democrats are less religious than Republicans overall, black and Hispanic Democrats are more similar to Republicans “on a host of religious measures,” Pew revealed in a report Wednesday. Non-white Democrats are far more likely to believe in God, regularly attend church services, pray daily, and call themselves Christians than white Democrats.

Democrats are divided racially on matters of faith while Republicans are united, Pew found, with an identical percentage of white Republicans and non-white Republicans believing in God.

While only 78 percent of white Democrats believe in God or a higher power, 95 percent of non-white Democrats believe, which is exactly the same percentage of believers among Republicans, both white and non-white.

Four times as many white Democrats say they do not believe in God or any higher power (21 percent) as compared with nonwhite Democrats (5 percent) and all Republicans (5 percent).

Pew on religion and race

Pew on religion and race

The data also reveals that difference on religion between Republicans and white Democrats are actually more profound than the difference between Republicans and Democrats more generally.

When it comes to Christianity a similar pattern emerges, with nonwhite Democrats roughly twice as likely as white Democrats to say they believe in the God of the Bible (61 percent vs. 32 percent). Once again, in this regard non-white Democrats more closely resemble Republicans, among whom 70 percent believe in the biblical God.

These findings regarding personal belief mirror data on other measures of religious commitment, Pew found.

In its most recent Religious Landscape Study, Pew found that non-white Democrats are nearly twice as likely as white Democrats to attend church at least once a week (39 percent vs. 22 percent), which aligns them more closely to the worship practices of Republicans, among whom 44 percent say they attend services at least weekly.

Regarding the practice of prayer, an identical percentage of nonwhite Democrats and Republicans say they pray on a daily basis (62 percent), while only 40 percent of white Democrats say they pray daily.

Moreover, 61 percent of Republicans and 62 percent of nonwhite Democrats say religion is “very important,” just over half as many white Democrats (35 percent) make this claim.

Black Democrats are even more religiously committed than other non-white Democrats, with nearly half (47 percent) saying they attend church at least once a week. Almost three-quarters of black Democrats pray daily (74 percent) and say religion is very important in their lives (76 percent).

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