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How religion impacts U.S. voters

2016-09-27

The U.S. elections are quickly approaching. While matters of importance seem to be fluxuating, a common question is whether or not religion has a tangible impact on the issues that matter to voters.

According to a 2016 Pew Research Center survey, the United States is one of the most religious countries, which may not be such good news with the candidates at hand.

IRENE CARATELLI
Director Global Politics, American University
"More than 50 percent of the population in the U.S. prays everyday. More than 23 percent of the population prays once a week and 23 percent does not pray. Now if you compare those statistics with other countries in the developed world, the United States is an exception.”

As a comparison, only 27 percent of the citizens of Italy, where the pope himself resides, believe religion plays an important role in their life. This importance is heightened when times of personal or social crisis arise, such as a divorce or death in the family, or economic recession and war. 

IRENE CARATELLI
Director Global Politics, American University
"This tells a lot about the individual relevance of religion, so the spiritual relevance, but also the political relevance. Because religion is politics. Religion has a political impact. People say people who go to Church, then also go to vote.” 

If religion and politics are so closely linked, the political candidates' actions do not seem to match up to the "standards” Church-goers have for the average, everyday Christian. 

IRENE CARATELLI
Director Global Politics, American University
"If you look at the candidates that are today racing in the U.S. presidential election, you don't see religion being very relevant for those two candidates. Both for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, religion doesn't seem to be a strong feature.”

Despite this, studies have shown that the more national per capita income grows, the less important religion is in the life of people and in politics in general. However, this does not seem to be the case based on this particular study, stating 73 percent of Americans pray at least once a week. 

While the direct cause of this disconnect between those who pray and the political candidates is not known, it is being displayed in the 2016 election, both amongst the candidates and the hatred and chaos spread throughout the country as a whole. 


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