AUSTIN â€“ Texans describe themselves as religious â€“ considerably more than people do nationally â€“ but that doesn’t mean they say amen to prayers in schools or bans on embryonic stem cells, according to a poll released Tuesday.
The scientific poll by the nonpartisan Texas Lyceum measured religious beliefs and government policies and not surprisingly found strong support for some religion in public life.
“When we put this thing together, we had kind of the working hypothesis that Texas is a particularly religious state in a particularly religious society, so therefore we expected a pretty conservative, pretty traditional view across a range of issues,” said Daron Shaw, the pollster and a government professor at the University of Texas.
“In fact, there’s a lot more subtlety, a lot more nuance that we found,” Dr. Shaw said.
For instance, 82 percent of adult Texans said they supported public displays of the Ten Commandments; 68 percent supported government financed faith-based initiatives and 65 percent said they supported taxpayer money going to school vouchers.
Those numbers indicate stronger support than previous statewide surveys have shown.
Conversely, the researchers said that they were somewhat surprised that 52 percent of Texans favored the federal government funding embryonic stem cell research.
In addition, on the question of abortion rights, 19 percent said women should never have an abortion, compared with 37 percent who believe women should always have the right to seek an abortion.
“Texans want religion on the menu, but don’t want to be force-fed it,” said Jim Henson, director of UT’s Texas Politics Project, in interpreting the poll numbers.
The poll showed that 68 percent of Texans believe that the Bible is the literal word of God. That is almost twice as many as the Pew Research Center found in a 2006 nationwide poll that showed 35 percent held that belief.