(RNS) A new poll released today by the Pew Research Center seeks to cut through the questionable practice of religious self-identification.
Researchers called one thousand random eligible voters and asked a series of questions to determine if respondent was “a good, decent person.” But Pew deviated from the usual technique of accepting people’s answers based on their word alone.
The pollsters instead cross-referenced people’s own views of themselves by consulting God (Pew has a direct line, of course). When the divine verdict on the righteousness of respondents diverged from their own self-evaluation, which it did in no small measure, Pew deferred to the All-Knowing One. Based on his judgment, respondents were broken down into three groups: “unimpeachable character,” “so-so” and “moral sewage.”
The morality question was followed by a series of questions relating to the presidential race. The cross-tabs, perhaps surprisingly, showed no relationship between the virtue of the respondent and how he or she intends to vote in November. While more than ninety-nine percent of saintly Americans find Donald Trump despicable, the poll found an equal proportion react to Hillary Clinton and “politics in general” with high negatives.
Candidates’ favorability only increased as the respondent’s own badness increased. The respondents celestially classified as indecent, power-hungry, habitual liars overwhelmingly approved of the tone of the election so far.
Alan Cooperman, director of religion research at Pew, called the new study “huge.”
He said God would be employed more often as a consultant in denominational surveys. “You need to get into people’s souls,” he said. “And the Lord helps us separate the principled public from the rest. Because, let’s face it, not everyone who says they go to worship services three times a week is an angel.”
Pew conducted the survey via telephone for adults and Snapchat for millennials. It listed the margin of error as plus or minus “one’s own trust in God’s omniscience.”