Both sides in the public labor stand-off in Wisconsin often wrap their arguments in moral and religious rhetoric. Most Americans, however, may want to avoid bringing up the issue at church. A February poll by Pew Research Center for People and the Press finds that evangelicals are split over fights between state and local governments and public labor unions.
Four in ten evangelicals say that their first reaction is to back labor unions when there is a disagreement between state or local governments and unions. Statistically, this is the same as the percentage who said their gut reaction would be to support governments. The only religious tradition to overwhelmingly support one side or the other is African-American Protestants, who favor labor two-to-one over governments.
When Pew asked whether people were favorable toward government employee unions, private company unions, and business corporations, it found that each was favored by around the same percentage of Americans. Just under half of Americans felt favorable toward each group.
Among religious traditions, however, there were differences. Evangelicals have the lowest favorability toward government employee unions of any religious group. Only 37 percent said they were favorable to unions that represent state and local government employees. This is lower than evangelical favorability toward unions that represent employees at private companies (41 percent). Views toward business corporations were the most positive, with roughly half of evangelicals saying they felt favorable toward business.
Mainline Protestants and Catholics showed a similar pattern, but the differences between the favorability of business versus government unions were not as stark as for evangelicals.