Should the Bible have any sway over the Constitution? The document itself doesn’t mention Jesus or the Bible and, in fact, specifically forbids any laws “respecting an establishment of religion.” But according to a new Pew study, about half of Americans think the Bible should have at least some influence in U.S. law, and almost a quarter believe it should have a “great deal” of influence.
Christians are more likely to believe the Bible should influence the law, 68 percent of whom say it should have at least some influence. That number jumps all the way to 89 percent if you’re just talking about white evangelicals. Catholics, meanwhile, are split almost in half on the question, with 51 percent saying the Bible should have some influence and 48 percent saying it should have not much or none at all.
There’s a marked difference among political parties too, with 67 percent of Republicans saying the Bible should have at least some influence over U.S. law, and only 32 percent of them saying it should have little or none. That’s almost the complete inverse for Democrats, 66 percent of whom say the Bible should have little to no influence over U.S. law, and 33 percent of whom say it should have at least some.
The question also has a stark generational contrast. 18-29-year-old respondents were the most likely to say the Bible should have little or no influence, with only 30 percent saying it should have at least some. 30-49 year-olds were more likely to favor some biblical influence, with 43 percent saying it should have at least some. And then 50-64-year-olds (61 percent) and the 65+ crowd (64 percent) were far more likely to approve the Bible swaying U.S. law.
As Pew notes, the more probing question here is to what degree should the Bible take priority over the will of the people? About 28 percent of Americans believe that the Bible should triumph over the will of the people when it comes to matters of law. Meanwhile, a little less than 20 percent agree the Bible should have some influence, but the will of the people should ultimately prevail in a democracy. But among white evangelicals, seven in ten say the Bible should triumph over what the people want.