Libertarian Party Poll: What Religion are Libertarians?

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From a Libertarian Party email blast:

The First Amendment to the Constitution says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. . .”

In religion, as in all things, Libertarians are a diverse group. I think this is one of the great beauties of Libertarianism. We have devout Christians working side-by-side with staunch Atheists working side-by-side with Jews and Muslims and Pagans and people of every other religious conviction.

Obviously, these religious groups disagree on many things. But, as Libertarians, we all fundamentally respect each other’s rights to worship and live our lives as we choose and to make sure the government stays out of it.

I’ve long maintained that smaller government enables diverse religious groups to coexist peacefully and respectfully.

I’m curious about how the religious makeup of the Libertarian Party compares to that of Americans in general.

If you would, please click here to respond to an informal poll.

I consider myself to be a Libertarian politically and the word that best describes my religions is:

Click here to respond to our poll.

If we didn’t list a category here that you feel expresses your preferences, please email us and let us know so that we can add it and include you in this poll.

Thank you for participating in this informal poll. I’ll share the results with you in a few days.

Yours in liberty,

Wes Benedict, Executive Director

70 thoughts on “Libertarian Party Poll: What Religion are Libertarians?

  1. NewFederalist

    I actually tried to take this poll but there was no adequate response for me. I emailed them as much.

  2. paulie

    As might be expected, Jews and Atheists/Agnostics overrepresented in early results vis a vis the general population.

  3. paulie

    Eastern religions and other non-xian religions also more widespread among Ls than among the public at large..

    If anyone wants to vote in the poll rather than just see results take out the part of the URL after the question mark.

  4. paulie

    Please elaborate. There’s a category for other religions, which would include Pagans, Wiccans, Luciferians, Shamanists, followers of various Native and Aboriginal religions, even people like me with their own custom personal religion that doesn’t necessarily even have a name. There’s another category that includes both atheists and agnostics. There are categories for different kinds of xians, Muslims and Jews. What’s missing? Any other religion could fall under other religions…Bahai, Zoroastrianism, Shinto, Rasta, you name it.

  5. NewFederalist

    What’s missing is the religious equivalent of libertarianism. The so called New Thought or New Age movement/philosophy. Religious Science, Divine Science and Unity immediately come to mind. Most of these identify as being “in the Christian tradition” but strictly speaking are NOT Christian. Hence, no appropriate category in the poll.

  6. Andy

    “paulie

    July 22, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    As might be expected, Jews and Atheists/Agnostics overrepresented in early results vis a vis the general population.”

    According to this article, Jews make up 2.2% of the population of the USA. I’ve heard higher percentage estimates than that, like 3%, but I suppose this could lead to a debate of who should be counted as being a Jew and who should not.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/01/us/poll-shows-major-shift-in-identity-of-us-jews.html

    The current survey results at LP.org have Jewish at 3%, so if the 2.2% of the population figure is accurate, this is only a small over-representation.

    Muslim being at zero percent in the survey is interesting, but it is not overly surprising. I read a survey recently that said that most Muslims support prohibition, not to mention having a reputation for being anti-liberty or rights for women and gays.

    It is not surprising that 43% of the survey takers so far have responded as being Atheist or Agnostic.

  7. Andy

    “anti-liberty or rights for women and gays. ”

    Should read, “anti-liberty on rights for women and gays.”

  8. NewFederalist

    “That would fall under Other Religions, I would think.”

    Like Zoroastrianism? I think not!

  9. paulie

    I’m surprised religious Jews are 2.2% of the US, if that’s true. I wonder if that survey was religion, ethnicity, or both? A lot of US Jews are atheist/agnostic and some are converts to Christianity or other religions. I would expect that a fair chunk of the people identifying themselves as atheists/agnostics and some of the various Christians and Other religions on the LP survey are of Jewish ancestry.

    BTW the US is the only country besides Israel that still has millions of Jews. There used to be millions of Jews throught Europe, the Middle East, and Russia and the other nations making up the USSR, but they were pretty much all killed or moved to the US or Israel over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries, and continuing into this one. That includes both religious and non-religious Jews. Others intermarried, converted, and the children stopped identifying as Jews.

  10. paulie

    Like Zoroastrianism? I think not!

    Not sure what you mean. Zoroastrianism is clearly under other religions. If you are into something that straddles the fence between heterodox Christianity and non-christian religion it’s up to you to decide which of those two categories is more descriptive of your beliefs (Other Christians or Other Religions).

  11. paulie

    Where would Unitarians identify?

    I think most Unitarians consider themselves to be Christian. For any that don’t, Other Religions or No Religion/Agnostic would apply.

  12. paulie

    Muslim being at zero percent in the survey is interesting, but it is not overly surprising. I read a survey recently that said that most Muslims support prohibition, not to mention having a reputation for being anti-liberty or rights for women and gays.

    There are, however, notable dissenters from that such as Muslims4Liberty and Minaret of Freedom.

  13. NewFederalist

    Unitarians reject the divinity of Christ by definition. That is why they are Unitarians instead if Trinitarians!

  14. Antirevolutionary

    New Thought should definitely have been included. From my experience though, most New Thought people are Democrats. I actually think we talked about this here a few years ago.

  15. NewFederalist

    Most Unitarians I have known are quite left. Most New Thought people I have known are VERY libertarian. I have been an advocate of Religious Science for over 30 years although I have attended Unity and Divine Science services as well until my wife decided to become a Lutheran. My point is this… the LP doesn’t even know that nearly everyone who attends a New Thought church is already 90% of the way to being libertarian in a political sense. Point number two.. many of the folks I have met over the years have incredible energy; super positive mental attitudes AND believe in giving great sums of money to those causes which give them benefit. Not only that but most of the people I have met are very successful. HELLO!

  16. Andy Craig

    I’m not really sure what the point of this is, and I’m a bit offended that the party would wade into this territory at all. How would you feel if you got an email from RNC or DNC asking “What Religion Are You?” – “None of your damn business.” was my reaction.

  17. paulie

    I’m not really sure what the point of this is, and I’m a bit offended that the party would wade into this territory at all. How would you feel if you got an email from RNC or DNC asking “What Religion Are You?” – “None of your damn business.” was my reaction.

    Not responding to the poll is always an option.

    How would I feel if the RNC or DNC asked me? I woudn’t. I would delete the email without thinking about it, or throw away the snail mail or hang up on the telemarketer.

    The purpose of LP sureys like this is to engage the people on our lists. It brings them to our website, where they will hpefully do other things, such as donating in some cases. It helps us maintain the list and see periodically which addresses bounce and which ones actually engage what we send them. If people engage the question on social media they may see more other stuff from the LP in their feeds. And so on.

    If you think it’s not any of anyone’s business, not spending any time either responding or being offended in any way would make the most sense, IMO.

  18. NewFederalist

    “Not responding to the poll is always an option.”

    Which I did because there was no suitable option for me. Not even a write in!

  19. Andy

    “Andy Craig

    July 22, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    I’m not really sure what the point of this is, and I’m a bit offended that the party would wade into this territory at all. How would you feel if you got an email from RNC or DNC asking ‘What Religion Are You?’ – ‘None of your damn business.’ was my reaction.”

    It is a voluntary survey, as in nobody is forced to participate in it. They did in fact have done of the choices as Don’t know/Decline to answer.

    Demographic surveys can be very useful in finding out who your supporters are. The data can be useful in lots of ways for marketing purposes.

  20. ATBAFT

    Long time party activist and former LP officer Dean Amad is a devout Muslim. Certainly there are others. I never recall a Libertarian flat out asking another’s religion; where revealed, it always seemed to be freely advanced by the adherent.

  21. Mark Axinn

    Paulie–

    I think there are about 7,000,000 Jews in the US, which is a little above 2%.

    The LP poll came out at 3% so that’s VERY reflective of overall population.

    OTOH, far greater percentage of Americans identify as Christian than the LP numbers reflect.

    Andy Craig–

    I too wondered at the point of the poll, but as I am not easily offended I merely took it. If I was even slightly offended, I might have just hit the delte key.

    Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with a private organization inquiring about its members, who are free to respond or not as they please.

  22. Mark Axinn

    Correction: US Jewish population is approx. 5,000,000 which is closer to 1.7% of total US population. I overstated it before.

    I still believe that the LP membership numbers are not that divergent, certainly not as much as the Christian population figures.

  23. ATBAFT

    Based on observation, I’d bet a good portion of those answering “atheist/agnostic” are from Jewish backgrounds. Just about all of Rand’s circle seemed to be former Jews (in the religious sense of course) and the LP reflected this to some extent.

  24. paulie

    Correction: US Jewish population is approx. 5,000,000 which is closer to 1.7% of total US population. I overstated it before.

    I still believe that the LP membership numbers are not that divergent, certainly not as much as the Christian population figures.

    That’s a complicated question as to whether you mean religion or ethnicity. Lots of secular Jews in the US, and even more proportionally in the LP.

    I think it actually accounts for a lot of the atheist/agnostic and other religions numbers.

    Ironically, the LP is less pro-Israel than either of the establishment parties.

    And the Republicans are more pro-Israel than the Democrats, but most Jews, especially secular Jews, identify with the Democrats and hate or at least dislike Republicans.

  25. paulie

    Based on observation, I’d bet a good portion of those answering “atheist/agnostic” are from Jewish backgrounds.

    Exactly.

  26. Mark Axinn

    Agreed.

    The 5,000,000 figure is all Jews in the US, whether observant or not.

    Of course, half the Jews in the US live in my city.

  27. Robert Capozzi

    pf: people like me with their own custom personal religion that doesn’t necessarily even have a name.

    me: Paulie, your religion could be named Singularitism. 😉

  28. Mark Axinn

    Personally I prefer a good ole American religion like Bourbonism, but Paulie is a vodka man.

  29. Andy

    “ATBAFT

    July 22, 2015 at 4:33 pm

    Based on observation, I’d bet a good portion of those answering “atheist/agnostic” are from Jewish backgrounds. Just about all of Rand’s circle seemed to be former Jews (in the religious sense of course) and the LP reflected this to some extent.”

    There are also a lot of Jews who are Atheists or Agnostics who still identify as Jewish, even though they are not into religion.

    It is hard to know what the real breakdown is without more surveys, or more scientifically conduced surveys.

  30. Robert Capozzi

    As for me, there was no good category…the best choice was “none.” I think I’ve read somewhere that those who describe themselves as “spiritual but not religious” is the fastest-growing “religion” in the US, and it describes my spiritual views generally.

  31. Andy

    “Robert Capozzi

    July 22, 2015 at 4:42 pm

    As for me, there was no good category…the best choice was ‘none.’ I think I’ve read somewhere that those who describe themselves as ‘spiritual but not religious’ is the fastest-growing ‘religion’ in the US, and it describes my spiritual views generally.”

    It probably would have been good to include this as a choice in the survey.

  32. paulie

    Personally I prefer a good ole American religion like Bourbonism, but Paulie is a vodka man.

    I was raised Vodkatarian, but go to Bourbon worship services with my friends when the occasion calls for it.

    Paulie, your religion could be named Singularitism.

    I guess that’s an element of my religion, but only one of several.

  33. paulie

    “spiritual but not religious”

    That’s somewhat close to my views, although it’s not really adequate, in that I feel I have connected with something that is beyond my ability to put into words or describe anything like adequately. Even that meta-explanation feels inadequate.

  34. paulie

    Yes. That’s the idea. Hopefuly more people engaging in any way at all will mean some of them will engage in other ways.

  35. Jed Ziggler Post author

    Not a fan of separating the various sects of Christianity. Makes it look like there’s more atheists than Christians, when if you do the math the opposite is true.

  36. George Phillies

    The important question: Why? A list of Christian sects that omit Unitaritians, Quakers, (not to be confused with Unitarian-Universalists), Epicopalians, and Orthodox, for three, is a bit interesting. Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, and LDS might be closer to all-encompassing.

  37. Robert Capozzi

    jz: Makes it look like there’s more atheists than Christians, when if you do the math the opposite is true.

    me: Yes, especially since I had no choice but to choose none, even though I think Jesus was the greatest philosopher of all time, followed closely by Lao Tzu and the Buddha.

  38. Mark Axinn

    >The important question: Why?

    George,

    There are already over 6000 responses to the poll and almost 50 comments to this IPR article. Seems like it’s garnering interest. As both Andy J. and I commented before, there’s nothing illegitimate per se with an organization doing demographical research on its members and supporters.

    That said, I think most of us raised an eyebrow or two when first seeing this poll, but on reflection there’s nothing wrong with it (and it does not cost anything to post!).

  39. Mark Axinn

    To the various Vulcans among IPR readers:

    Raising an eyebrow is not meant to endorse any particular religion on your planet, which I don’t think you have anyway.

    Nimoy came from an Orthodox Jewish family, but that is not relevant as he wasn’t a Libertarian.

  40. langa

    As for me, there was no good category…the best choice was “none.” I think I’ve read somewhere that those who describe themselves as “spiritual but not religious” is the fastest-growing “religion” in the US, and it describes my spiritual views generally.

    That comes pretty close to describing me also. I didn’t choose “none” since I didn’t want to be lumped in with atheists and agnostics. I strongly believe in God — I just don’t have much use for the formal ceremonies and rituals that “religion” entails.

    I ended up choosing “Baptist” since that used to be my religion, and technically, I guess I’m still a member of a Baptist church, even though, with the exception of a couple of funerals, I haven’t set foot in that church (or any other church, for that matter) in over a decade.

  41. Jill Pyeatt

    Religion is a very important issue to many people, including Libertarians. I think understanding the current demographics of the party can be helpful. Those not interested can just do or read something else.

    I am personally very interested in what percent claim to be atheist or agnostic. I suspect our percent will be much higher than the general population.

  42. Antirevolutionary

    If you assume that most who put down “Other Christian” are Protestants, it looks like Catholics are very underrepresented proportionally. I think there is certainly a link between Catholicism and opposition to libertarianism.

  43. paulie

    Current results:

    Catholic 9%

    Baptist 5%

    Methodist 3%

    Lutheran 3%

    Mormon 3%

    Other Christian 25%

    Jewish 2%

    Eastern Religions 2%

    Muslim 1%

    Other Non-Christian Religion 6%

    None (including Agnostic and Atheist) 39%

    Don’t know/Decline to respond 3%

    Total votes: 14544

    For comparison: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_the_United_States

    And to address a few points raised earlier: religious Jews are only 1.2% of the US population as of 2008, and falling (1.4% in 2001, 1.8% in 1990).

    Muslims are only 0.6% of the US as of 2008, and currently at 1% in the LP poll (rounded off).

    Interesting that Mormons are overrepresented in the LP poll: 3% in the LP poll, 1.4% of the US as of 2008.

  44. Mark Axinn

    Of course, the universe being polled is highly relevant.

    I went to a Jesuit law school in Manhattan. We only had three religions, in pretty much equal proportions: Irish Catholic, Italian Catholic and Jewish. 🙂

  45. paulie

    Not sure why Catholics would be so underrepresented on an LP survey. Maybe a lot of the atheist/agnostics are lapsed Catholics.

  46. Andy

    It could be due to the large number of Hispanics that are Catholic, being that other surveys have indicated that 75% of Hispanics favor big government.

  47. paulie

    I doubt it. Wes told me he did precinct by precinct analysis of LP vote totals in Texas and it turned out the areas with more Latino last names had more LP votes than the areas with a big majority of Anglo names.

    Much like your conjecture about Muslims I don’t think you are right in this case either. As of right now it does not look like Muslims are underrepresented among LP surey takers relatie to the US population (see above).

    I think a more likely explanation is that a lot of rebellious Catholics reject the authority of the Church, and may also reject other forms of authority, and then no longer consider themselves Catholic; they would be most likely to be found in the atheist/agnostic category.

  48. Andy

    Latino names could mean Cameron Diaz, Carlos Estevez (aka-“Charlie Sheen”), and Andy Garcia, and Anglo names could mean Roy Jones Jr., Irving Johnson (aka-“Magic”), and Will Smith.

  49. Andy

    It is not mere conjecture about Muslims. Surveys have indicated that most of them favor prohibition, and they are in fact notorious when it comes to oppressing women and gays.

  50. paulie

    Doesn’t matter. We’re talking about preponderance trends over many thousands of people. And I think they would in most cases still be Catholics.

    Why do you think it’s so relevant if they are lighter or darker skinned, anyway? How is that relevant here?

  51. paulie

    It is not mere conjecture about Muslims. Surveys have indicated that most of them favor prohibition, and they are in fact notorious when it comes to oppressing women and gays.

    And yet they are now at least as represented on this survey as in the general population, so there are Muslim Libertarians, and not in smaller numbers than Muslim Americans.

  52. Andy

    It would be nice if everyone was a libertarian, or if there was more diversity among libertarians, but surveys indicate that 94% of libertarians are white.

    Could this change? I believe it could, at least to some extent, but that is going to take a major outreach effort.

    Heck, I am actually like 12.5% Spanish myself, and if my great-grandmother had switched gender roles with my great-grandfather, I’d have a Spanish last name, and then I could be counted as a Hispanic or Latino Libertarian.

  53. paulie

    We’re surveying religion here, not race. I’m not sure how you managed to smuggle race into it.

    Since you brought it up though, no, 94% of libertarians are not white. Maybe you mean LP delegates. But as far as people testing libertarian on the quiz .. I have seen surveys that black people tested libertarian just as much as whites, in addition to the precinct vote analysis I mentioned.

    Still not sure why you think the race question is relevant here.

    Yes, some people with Latino names will be only small percentage Latino just like some people with Anglo names will be only small percentage Anglo, or only Anglo by marriage and so on. But when you average out over a large population, most people with Hispanic names will be mostly Hispanic and most of them will be Catholics.

    So your theory about these results seems unlikely. The lapsed Catholic hypothesis makes a lot more sense.

  54. Wake Up

    Andy is making excellent points in this thread. I think he is 100% right. The Muslims and the Hispanics have no concept of liberty, and are not fit to live among us. They should all be sent packing. When Trump packs the convention next year I think we can get this into the LP platform.

  55. paulie

    There have been different surveys done whch have measured libertarian in different ways – NolanQuiz results, self-identified libertarians, and so on. I think the Pew research that you are referring to is https://web.archive.org/web/20120217034033/http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa580.pdf page 16 which shows black people at 12% of the population and 7% of libertarians. Whites in that survey are at 80% of the population and 82% of libertarians (not 93%, which you may have mistakenly arrived at by assuming all non-blacks are white), in other words the rate of libertarians among non-whites in general is no different than among whites. Groups other than blacks or whites aren’t covered in the chart. In other words if whites are 80% of the population, non-whites are 20%, and if 82% of libertarians are white then 18% of libertarians are non-white on that particular survey.

    Page 17 shows a different survey, which does include Hispanics as a separate category. It shows that in 2004 Hispanics were 7% of the overall total and 6% of libertarians – in other words not dramatically different from their rate in the overall population. That survey has whites at 71% of the population and 81% of libertarians.

    https://web.archive.org/web/20120302143842/http://server.theadvocates.org/quiz-faq.html

    In September 2000, Rasmussen Research, one of the world’s leading polling organizations, administered the World’s Smallest Political Quiz in a “Portrait of America” poll of a broad cross-section of likely American voters.

    This was the first time that the Quiz itself had been used in a scientific, non-commissioned poll conducted by a professional pollster.

    Using the Quiz questions and political divisions, Rasmussen surveyed 822 likely voters by telephone and found:

    32% were centrists; 16% libertarians; 14% statists; 13% liberal; 7% conservative; and, 17% bordered one or more categories.

    While the test identified 16% of the voting population as libertarian, only 2% of the respondents identified themselves with that label when given a chance.

    Other interesting results:

    * Libertarians and centrists were equally distributed throughout the Democratic and Republican parties.

    * African Americans comprise the least number of left liberals (9%) and the highest number of libertarians (21%).

    * Non-church goers are just as likely to be libertarians (18%) as left liberals (19%). Those who attend church four or more times per month are slightly more likely to be libertarians (15%) than right conservatives (11%).

    In other words when the definition of libertarian is based on quiz results rather than self-identification labels, blacks are more likely than whites to be libertarian, not less. I don’t see Hispanics as a category in those results.

    I’ve already told you about Wes Benedict’s precinct analysis of LP votes in Texas.

    Or take the following:

    Libertarians make the Ask a Mexican column….

    DEAR MEXICAN: As I’ve been doing a lot more business in Santa Ana, I’ve realized that a shitload of Mexicans are the FOX News type: conservative, yacking out the same kind of shit you hear at a Glenn Beck conference except for immigration (probably because Tío Juan has no papers). But I’ve also met a ton of anti-immigrant Latinos who look as if they just hopped the border themselves. In fact, I hear more crazy shit from Latinos in Santa Ana about Mexicans than from gabachos in Laguna or Newport (probably because the only time they see them is when they are getting some kind of manual-labor service). I know Mexico is inherently conservative and racist, and I wasn’t surprised to encounter conservative fanaticism from Latinos, but hearing such pendejadas so consistently has been a bit shocking. Is there any scholarly evidence backing up my observations, or am I just being paraoico?

    Your Former Student Julio

    DEAR WAB: Refry this: A 2014 Pew Hispanic Center survey showed that 11 percent of Latinos surveyed identified as libertarian—almost as many as gabachos! As I’ve been writing since you were in high school, Mexican immigrants from the countryside and their descendents (the majority of Mexicans in el Norte) are natural libertarians, what with their up-by-the-bootstraps mentality, skepticism toward government of any kind, hatred of police and love of liberty (let us play our tamborazo in the back yard and raise chickens in peace!)—but they also bring with them social mores from the days of having sex through a hole in the sheet. It’s those pesky chilangos and Chicano Studies yaktivists like myself who push our cousins and parents toward modernity, toward them accepting the primo in the closet and explaining why words such as joto and puto just aren’t cool anymore. Needless to say, the struggle es real. . .

    So there you have it; a variety of survey results none of which support your hypothesis that Hispanics are significantly less likely to be libertarians than Anglos. Certainly nothing that would account for the difference in percentage of Catholics between this particular survey and the US population as a whole. I think my hypothesis about lapsed Catholics makes a lot more sense when looking at this variety of survey evidence.

    Likewise, your hypothesis about Muslims isn’t being borne out by the survey results either; the percentage of libertarians who are Muslim is turning about to be about the same as the percentage of the US population that is Muslim.

    What I’d still like to know is by what process you got to discussing race off of a religion survey. Most African-Americans are Protestant, so that certainly wouldn’t account for disparities between the US and libertarian results with Atheists/Agnostics or Catholics. I can see where you might guess that Hispanics, being primarily Caholic, could account for the discrepancy if you didn’t examine the survey result evidence above, but when you do, that hypothesis goes right out the window.

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