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Poll: Churchgoers more rigid

Seen less willing to compromise on abortion, gays

CHICAGO -- In the past four years churchgoing Americans have grown increasingly intolerant of politicians making compromises on such issues as abortion and gay rights, according to a survey released yesterday.

At the same time, those polled said they were growing bolder about pushing their beliefs on others, even risking offending people.

The trends could indicate that religion has become ''more prominent in American discourse," said Ruth Wooden, head of Public Agenda, a nonpartisan research group that released the survey.

It also could indicate ''more polarized political thinking. There do not seem to be very many voices arguing for compromise today," she said. ''It could be that more religious voices feel under siege, pinned against the wall by cultural developments. They may feel more emboldened as a result."

The November election saw voters in a number of states back gay marriage bans, and President Bush won reelection with heavy support from fellow religious conservatives.

The findings came from a telephone survey of 1,507 adults made in 2000 and a second survey of 1,004 adults conducted last summer that tracked the same issues. It had a margin of error of 3 percentage points. Those surveyed were nearly all Christians, not by design but because the sample reflected the makeup of the population, the group said.

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