A new survey by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research Inc. for WNET’s Religion and Ethics Newsweekly and the United Nations Foundation says that Americans who routinely attend worship have a divided view of America’s impact on the world. On the one hand the vast majority those surveyed believe the United States has a moral obligation to be engaged on the international stage, they also believe that there are times when such involvement can cause more harm than good.
The September 2008 survey found that nearly a quarter of Americans (24%) say the U.S. should be very actively engaged in world affairs and 70 percent believe America should be at least moderately involved. Most believe the nation should be actively involved in world affairs because of an explicit responsibility or moral obligation to take a leadership role in the world. At the same time, nearly eight-in-ten (79%) of Americans agree that sometimes U.S. involvement in world affairs causes more harm than good. Overall, Americans are equally split about whether the U.S. has a positive or negative impact on the world.
Other findings include:
• Eighty percent of people who attend religious services regularly believe that America is blessed by God and that America should set an example to the world as a Christian nation (77% agree). Only 48 percent of people who attend services less regularly agree that America is uniquely blessed by God, and 49 percent of them agree America should set an example as a Christian nation.
• A substantial minority of Americans (41%) say they consider America’s culture to be better than others, agreeing with the statement “our people are not perfect, but our culture is superior to others” (21% strongly agree).
• The most important foreign policy priority across the religious spectrum is controlling the proliferation of nuclear weapons (80% of Americans, 86% of white evangelicals, 82% of Catholics, and 76% of mainline Protestants extremely/very important).
• Evangelical Protestants express the greatest support for an interventionist role on the part of the U.S., while more moderate religious groups such as mainline Protestants and Catholics
take a less interventionist posture.
• Evangelicals and traditional Catholics are more likely to believe the US is a positive presence in the world (58% and 53% positive respectively) than liberal Catholics, mainline Protestants and Americans who attend religious services only irregularly (37%, 45%, and 44% positive, respectively).
• Young evangelicals have a broader definition of pro-life issues than older evangelicals. Sixty- three percent of young evangelicals (ages 18-29) agree that poverty, disease, and torture are pro-life issues, compared to 56 percent of older evangelicals.
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