Group Eyes Mix of Religion, Politics; Pentecostals Support in Poll

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Byline: Chrissie Thompson, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

A majority of Pentecostals and charismatic Christians think religion should find a place in politics, according to a poll released yesterday.

In nine of the 10 countries surveyed, a majority of Pentecostals and charismatics, together called renewalists, said religious groups should not stay out of political matters, according to the poll by Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. In the United States, 79 percent of Pentecostals supported religious expression about social and political issues, compared with 61 percent of all Americans.

"Historically, at least in the United States, Pentecostals were always seen as being apolitical," said John Green, Pew Forum's senior fellow in religion and American politics. "Whether or not that was once true in the United States, it is no longer, and it is certainly not true in the countries that we surveyed around the world. That gives them the opportunity to influence the social and political life of their country."

At least two-thirds of Pentecostals surveyed placed importance on their political leaders being strong Christians. In addition, 52 percent of American Pentecostals said the government should work toward making the United States a Christian country.

Mr. Green said renewalists' morals have led them to support conservative Republicans, but they might become less Republican if social welfare issues once again come to the forefront of American politics.

In addition to the United States, the Pew Forum conducted surveys in Brazil, Chile, Guatemala, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, India, the Philippines and South Korea. …