Poll: Liberals Ignore Religion, Value Teaching Tolerance

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By Jonah Bennett 

A new survey by the Pew Research Center shows that liberals think teaching tolerance to children is far more important than instilling religious faith, whereas conservatives think the exact opposite.

Pew points to increasing political polarization as a reason for major divergence between conservatives and liberals on what to teach children.

The survey extended to 12 different qualities in total, including responsibility, persistence, hard work and manners. Polarization apparently does not seem to apply to qualities responsibility, which enjoys wide support from both conservatives and liberals at 93 percent. Overall, 55 percent rate responsibility as the most important trait. Hard work and good manners, too, are ranked highly by all ideological groups.

However, more politically salient values like religious faith and tolerance is where real disagreements emerge. Only 26 percent of liberals think that teaching religious faith is especially important, and only 11 percent think it’s the most important quality. Compare this to 81 percent of conservatives, who believe that teaching religion is especially important, with 59 percent saying it’s one of the three most important qualities. Instead, 88 percent of liberals prefer focus on tolerance.

Only 6 percent of conservatives identify as religiously unaffiliated, as opposed to 42 percent of liberals, but when controlling for religious affiliation and demographics, Pew researchers found that the scores didn’t actually change. Liberals in general still don’t think teaching religious faith is especially important.

Obedience was another value ideological groups disagreed on. Around 67 percent of consistent conservatives believe that obedience is especially important when teaching children. Only 35 percent of consistent liberals agreed.

Viewed in terms of gender, women scored 5 percentage points lower for viewing hard work as the most important value to instill in children. However, women took the lead on viewing empathy for others as the most important value at 19 percent, whereas only 11 percent of men viewed empathy to be the most important value.

Pew conducted the survey from April 29 to May 27, with a nationally representative sample of 3,243 adults. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.3 percentage points.

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