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The Story: According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, many churchgoers say their clergy have encouraged them to vote, but fewer say their clergy have discussed the candidates directly or favored one over the other.

The Background:  Among those who attend religious services at least once or twice a month, about half (52%) say their clergy have spoken out about the importance of voting over the past few months. Just one-in-five (19%) say their clergy have spoken about the candidates themselves. Black Protestants are far more likely than white Protestants or Catholics to say they are hearing about the candidates and the importance of voting, and the messages they are hearing overwhelmingly favor Barack Obama.

The Takeaways: Some of the more interesting findings from the survey include:

• Among those who attend religious services at least once or twice a month, about half (52%) say their clergy have spoken out about the importance of voting over the past few months.

• One-in-five (19%) say their clergy have spoken about the candidates themselves.

• Among regular churchgoers, four-in-ten (40%) black Protestants say their clergy have spoken directly about the candidates, compared with 17% of white Catholics, 12% of white evangelicals and just 5% of white mainline Protestants.

• Nearly half (45%) of black Protestant churchgoers say the messages they hear at church favor a candidate, and every one of those says the message favors Obama.

• White evangelical churchgoers say their clergy have tended to be more supportive of Romney (26%) than Obama (5%).

• Three-quarters of those who say they attend religious services at least monthly (74%) say their clergy have recently spoken out about hunger and poverty.

• Among those who feel their clergy’s messages favor a candidate, roughly equal numbers say the messages support Obama (15%) as Romney (14%).

• Roughly one-third say their clergy have spoken out about abortion (37%).

• Four-in-ten white evangelicals say their clergy have spoken out recently about homosexuality, and 37% of black Protestants say the same. By comparison, fewer white mainline Protestants (24%) and white Catholics (20%) say their clergy have addressed this issue.

• One-fifth of those who attend religious services at least monthly have heard their clergy speak out about government policies they believe restrict religious liberty (21%), and 16% say their clergy have addressed immigration.

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