Survey Examines Profiles of Religious Activists

A groundbreaking survey comparing the activities, demographics and motivations of “religious activists” involved in politics has found that activists on both ends of the political spectrum are deeply religious, though their religious and political profiles are dramatically different.

The results of the 2009 Religious Progressive and Conservative Activist Surveys were released by the Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron, Ohio, and Public Religion Research of Washington, D.C., on Sept. 15. The researchers divided the activists surveyed into “conservative” or “progressive” groups and posed slightly different questions to each group.

Regarding political priorities, a large majority of the conservative group listed just two issues as “most important” for religious people to focus on: abortion, cited by 83 percent, and same-sex marriage, cited by 65 percent. No other issue was categorized as “most important” by more than 26 percent of the group.

The responses by progressive activists were more diverse, with five different issues being identified as “most important” on a five-point scale measuring each of eight issues. Seventy-four percent of progressives identified poverty as most important; 67 percent identified health; 56 percent marked the environment; 48 percent listed jobs/economy; and 45 percent, the war in Iraq. The only issue for which the two groups gave similar rankings was immigration, which 21 percent of progressives and 26 percent of conservatives marked as most important.

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