Poll: Liberals exaggerate their religious beliefs more than conservatives do

But it seems that when it comes to worship attendance, liberals are more inclined to do so. PRRI found that over the phone, only 27 percent of self-identified liberals admitted that religion is not important to them; the number jumped to 40 percent of liberals who responded to an online questionnaire. Conservatives were much more consistent: Only 4 percent of telephone respondents and 6 percent of online respondents said the same.

This suggests that although religious affiliation is waning—in the past 20 years, the number of Americans claiming no affiliation has more than doubled to around 22 percent—religion is still seen as a good thing, or at least as socially desirable. If elected officials are any indication of what Americans view as desirable, religious devotion is nearly a requirement. There has never been an openly atheist or agnostic president and only one member of Congress, former Representative Pete Stark, who declared non-believer status while in office. Although Stark, a Democrat from California, entered Congress in 1973, it wasn’t until 2007 that he publicly declared himself a non-believer.

Since then, no current member of Congress has come out as atheist or agnostic, although the number of members who do not claim a specific religious affiliation has risen.