Poll: Little Objection to Rick Warren Giving Inaugural Prayer

by Frank Newport

Only 9% object to Obama’s selection of Warren to give prayer on Tuesday

PRINCETON, NJ -- Despite media reports of controversy over Barack Obama's selection of megachurch pastor Rick Warren to give the prayer at Tuesday's inauguration, the average American seems to be either unaware of the selection or to approve. Fifty-two percent of Americans say they don't know enough about the decision to have an opinion either way. Among Americans who do have an opinion, those who approve outweigh those who disapprove 39% to 9%.

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The news media have been regularly reporting on controversy aroused by Obama's decision to choose Rick Warren for the inaugural prayer. The objection to Warren -- the pastor of the huge Saddleback Church in Orange County, Calif., and author of the best-selling "The Purpose Driven Life" -- appears to be based on Warren's recent support for California's Proposition 8 that defined marriage as only between and man and a woman, and for other conservative statements Warren has made about gay rights.

But the results of a Gallup Poll tracking question asked Friday and Saturday shows that any controversy over the selection is apparently contained to a small segment of American society.

Overall, as noted, less than 10% of Americans end up saying that they disapprove of Warren's giving the prayer.

Even among Democrats and self-described liberals, support for Obama's choice of Warren far outweighs disapproval.

Among Democrats, there is 37% approval compared to 10% disapproval. Among liberals, the numbers are similar with 39% approving and 16% disapproving. Approval is predictably higher among Republicans and conservatives.

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Bottom Line

News media accounts of negative reactions to president-elect Barack Obama's decision to select Rick Warren to deliver the Inaugural prayer appear to reflect more of the vocal positions of interest groups than an opinion that is shared by the majority of the American public.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,046 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Jan. 16-17, 2009. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones (for respondents with a land-line telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell-phone only).

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/113881/Poll-Little-Objection-Rick-Warren-Giving-Inaugural-Prayer.aspx
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