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Is Obama more religion-friendly than his party? Many Americans think so, says new poll

December 1, 2009 |  2:39 pm

Warren

President Obama's administration is seen as more friendly toward religion than the Democratic Party as a whole, a new Pew poll has found.

Thirty-seven percent of Americans said they view Obama as religion-friendly, while only 29% said they see the Democratic Party that way, according to the poll.

The findings aren't surprising. During his campaign for the presidency, Obama courted religious voters more aggressively than most recent Democratic presidential candidates by putting faith front and center.

In July 2008, during the height of the presidential race, then-Sen. Obama pledged to expand a controversial White House program that gives federal grants to churches and small community groups.

Later that summer, during a forum at evangelical Pastor Rick Warren's Saddleback Church in Orange County, Obama, who is Christian, spoke of "walking humbly with our God" and quoted from the Gospel of Matthew.

It paid off. 

Forty-three percent of voters who said they attend church weekly chose Obama over Republican John McCain, according to the National Election Pool exit survey, a change from recent election trends, in which religious voters overwhelmingly chose Republican candidates. Among occasional worshipers, Obama won 57% of the vote.

The Pew poll found that the Republican Party is still seen as friendlier toward religion than either Obama or the Dems. Forty-eight percent of those polled viewed the GOP as friendly toward religion.

The poll, which was conducted in August by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life and the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, also asked people about their views of the news media, scientists and Hollywood related to religion.

Fourteen percent of voters said they view the news media as friendly toward religion, and 12% said they view scientists that way. Only 11% said they see Hollywood as friendly toward religion.

-- Kate Linthicum

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Photo: Then-Sen. Obama, left, appears at a forum in August 2008 with Pastor Rick Warren at Warren's  Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif. Warren led the invocation at Obama's inauguration in January. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

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