According to the results of a new poll by the Public Religion Research Institute, a majority of Americans prefer a president with strong religious beliefs, even if they can’t precisely name the religious beliefs of current presidential hopefuls. Fifty-six percent of those polled said strong faith is important in a president, even if their beliefs differ from their own. However, a minority of those polled could correctly identify the religion of candidate contenders Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, and even President Obama. Just four in ten Americans correctly identified Romney’s religion as Mormon.

Americans may think that visibly faithful candidates, even if their faith isn’t largely understood, are more trustworthy than a strong central government, says Mark Silk, a professor of religion in public life at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. “There’s a suspicion of a strong central government…and Americans think that more religious leaders are less likely to abuse the people,” he told Religion News Service.

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