The following comes from the Pew Research Center.
Joe Biden is just the second Catholic president in U.S. history, after John F. Kennedy. Most U.S. adults know that Biden is Catholic, including majorities within both major political parties, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.
But partisan similarities in views about Biden’s religion end there. Republicans and Democrats have vastly different views about how religious Biden is and whether he talks about his religious faith too much, too little or the right amount. This political divide extends even to Biden’s fellow Catholics, who are deeply split along party lines over whether Biden’s views about abortion should disqualify him from receiving Communion.
While majorities in both parties know that Biden is Catholic, they disagree profoundly about the role of religion in his private and public life. Among Democrats and those who lean to the Democratic Party, nearly nine-in-ten say that Biden is at least “somewhat” religious, including 45% who say they think he is a “very” religious person. By contrast, almost two-thirds of people who identify with or lean toward the GOP (63%) say that Biden is “not too” or “not at all” religious.
On the whole, the share of Americans who say Biden is a “very” or “somewhat” religious person has risen from 55% in February 2020 to 64% today. Over that period, there has been a particularly pronounced increase in the share of Americans who say Biden is “very” religious (from 9% in February 2020 to 27% today). But virtually all of this increase has happened among Democrats; among members of Biden’s own party, 13% described him as very religious early last year, compared with 45% today.
While eight-in-ten Democrats (79%) say Joe Biden mentions his religious faith and prayer about the right amount, fewer than half of Republicans (42%) agree.
Even among Biden’s fellow Catholics, partisanship permeates views of Biden’s religion. Nine-in-ten Democratic and Democratic-leaning Catholics say they think Biden is at least somewhat religious, including half who say he is “very” religious. Among Republican and Republican-leaning Catholics, by contrast, a 56% majority say Biden is “not too” or “not at all” religious. And while eight-in-ten Catholic Democrats say they think Biden discusses his faith “about the right amount,” barely half as many Catholic Republicans say the same (42%).
The survey finds, furthermore, that a slim majority of Catholic Republicans (55%) think that Biden’s views about abortion should disqualify him from receiving Communion in the Catholic Church. But nearly nine-in-ten Catholic Democrats (87%) come down on the other side of this question, saying that Biden should be allowed to receive the Eucharist.
These are among the key findings of a new Pew Research Center survey conducted March 1-7, 2021, among 12,055 U.S. adults (including 2,492 Catholics) on the Center’s online, nationally representative American Trends Panel. The margin of sampling error for the full sample of respondents is plus or minus 1.5 percentage points. More information on how the survey was conducted is available in the methodology.
Additional key findings include:
- U.S. Catholics who attend Mass at least once a week are considerably more likely than those who attend Mass less often to say that politicians who disagree with the church’s position on abortion should be ineligible for Communion (42% vs. 24%).
- Roughly half of Catholic Republicans (49%) say Catholic politicians who support legal abortion should not be able to receive the sacrament; just 15% of Catholic Democrats agree. Similarly, 30% of Catholic Republicans say politicians should be barred from Communion if they disagree with the church about homosexuality, compared with just 12% of Catholic Democrats who say the same. Large majorities of Catholics in both parties say that Catholic politicians who disagree with the church about the issues of the death penalty and immigration should be able to present themselves for Communion. Read a more in-depth analysis here.
- Two-thirds of U.S. adults say they are not sure what Harris’ religious identity is, while just 12% say that she is a Protestant (Harris identifies as Baptist). Democrats are more likely to say that Harris is Protestant (18% vs. 7%), while Republicans are more inclined to say that she does not have a religion (15% vs. 3%).
- Across a variety of religious groups, sizable majorities say they think Biden is at least somewhat religious, ranging from 60% of White Protestants who are not evangelical to 87% among Black Protestants.
- Six-in-ten U.S. adults say they think Biden mentions his religious faith and prayer “about the right amount,” while the remainder are divided as to whether he discusses his faith “too much” (14%) or “too little” (21%).