Religion important to Americans, new poll reveals

.- Americans are far more likely to consider religion central to their lives and to believe that religious leaders should have their say in public policy than people in nine other developed countries, says a recent AP-Ipsos poll.

The poll was conducted last month. It surveyed 1,000 people in each of the following 10 countries: the United States, Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, South Korea and Spain.

Nearly all U.S. respondents said faith was important to them; only 2 percent said they did not believe in God. In addition, almost 40 percent agreed that religious leaders should join public debates and try to influence government policy and legislation.The poll found Republicans are much more likely than Democrats to agree with the latter.

Mexicans came close to Americans in embracing faith, but the poll indicates that they strongly object to clerical involvement in public policy.

Citizens in Western European countries were the least likely say that religion was central to their lives. Italy was the only exception with 80 percent saying that religion is significant and just over half saying they believe in God. Still, Italians are not strongly in favor of mixing religion and politics.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.

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