Poll backlash against outspoken clergy

Sydney, Australia - An international poll conducted across several countries reveals that 75% of Australians, and 76% of Australian Catholics, believe that religious leaders should not try to influence government decisions.

Online Catholics reports that the survey was conducted by the Washington based Ipsos Public Affairs on behalf of the Associated Press. It surveyed respondents in the US, Canada, Mexico, South Korea, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK, as well as Australia. The Australian conclusions came from a sample of 1001.

26% of Australians said religion is 'very important' and 29% say 'somewhat important'. Slightly fewer say religion is not too important (20%) and not at all important (25%).

Online Catholics comments the Ipsos results come at a time when both sides of politics in Australia are actively courting the 'religious vote'.

"But perhaps more importantly, as social welfare in is increasingly outsourced to church organisations, these results show that voters are likely to be impatient of any decisions, especially in the social services sector, influenced along religious lines."

"As the trend to turn the churches into the main providers of social welfare for the state, it may appear to voters that church leaders are increasingly attempting to influence government decisions - whether that is the intention, or not."

The United States had the highest proportion of respondents who responded favourably to the proposition. 37% of Americans thought it was okay for church leaders to seek to influence government, while 61% thought it was not. The most opposed to clerical influence in government decision making are the French, with 85% opposed and 12% in favour.