PEW: More Americans Want Churches to Have a Say in Science Policy

Brittany M. Hughes | October 22, 2015
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(Photo Credit: The Associated Press)

A majority of Americans say they believe churches should openly express their opinions when it comes to policy decisions on scientific issues like biomedicine, the environment and energy.

Hidden within a recent Pew survey analysis on the conflict between religion and science is this nugget:

The general public is closely divided in its views about the role of religious organizations in scientific policy debates. Overall, half of adults say churches should express their views on policy decisions about scientific issues, while 46% say churches should keep out of such matters.

The data is just one piece of a larger poll by Pew to gage public opinion on whether science and religion conflict. According to Pew, nearly seventy percent of Americans say there’s no conflict between science and their own personal religious beliefs.

On top of that, more than 40 percent of Americans say there’s no general conflict between science and religion. From the survey:

A majority of the public says science and religion often conflict, with nearly six-in-ten adults (59%) expressing this view in newly released findings from a Pew Research Center survey. The share of the public saying science and religion are often in conflict is up modestly from 55% in 2009, when Pew Research conducted a similar survey on religion and science.

However, Pew adds:

People’s sense that there generally is a conflict between religion and science seems to have less to do with their own religious beliefs than it does with their perceptions of other people’s beliefs. Less than one-third of Americans polled in the new survey (30%) say their personal religious beliefs conflict with science, while fully two-thirds (68%) say there is no conflict between their own beliefs and science.

Pew also reports that religiously affiliated adults are more likely now to say their own faith doesn’t conflict with science than when the poll was taken in 2009:

The share of all adults who perceive a conflict between science and their own religious beliefs has declined somewhat in recent years, from 36% in 2009 to 30% in 2014. Among those who are affiliated with a religion, the share of people who say there is a conflict between science and their personal religious beliefs dropped from 41% to 34% during this period.