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Reproduced from Pew Research Center; Chart: Axios visuals

Two-thirds of American churches delivered overtly political sermons or messages in the run-up to the 2020 election, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of online sermons.

Why it matters: Many clergy felt compelled to address the controversies dividing the country — and possibly their own congregations — at a time of turmoil.

By the numbers: Between Aug.31 and Nov. 8, 2020, two-thirds of churches posted at least one sermon or message about the 2020 election. The messages varied among Christian churches:

  • 48% of sermons mentioning the election in evangelical Protestant churches discussed specific issues, parties or candidates. Evangelical pastors were more than twice as likely as others to use the phrases "Satan," "hell" and "pray [for our] president."
  • Historically Black Protestant pastors were far more likely to encourage voting and turnout, and to reference voter suppression, more than other groups.

When discussing racism, evangelical pastors disproportionately leaned on phrases such as "racial tension." Evangelicals also used terms like "police officer," "crime" and "convict" around three times as often as others.

  • Pastors in mainline and historically Black Protestant congregations used terms like "anti-racism" and "white supremacist" when talking about racism.

Meanwhile, Catholic priests were least likely to discuss any of these topics during services.

Details: The analysis of 12,832 sermons, shared online by 2,143 churches (due to the pandemic), is not necessarily a representative sample of all sermons delivered across the country.

  • It provides a glimpse of the messages that churchgoers heard during a pivotal period for the U.S.

Go deeper

Updated 7 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Biden lays out $1.75 trillion "framework" before Europe departure

President Biden in Kearny, N.J., on Oct. 25. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

President Biden announced Thursday a "framework" for $1.75 trillion in social program and climate change spending after failing in prior efforts to win over his fellow Democrats on a much broader and costlier package.

Why it matters: Biden is gambling that by proclaiming the broad contours of the proposal, which he immediately began selling in a meeting with House Democrats before jetting off to Europe, progressives will vote for his $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan if and when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi brings it to the floor.

Economy slows in third quarter amid Delta variant

Data: FRED; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. economy increased at an annual rate of 2% in the third quarter, the Department of Commerce said Thursday.

Driving the news: The gross domestic product figures for July through September come in much lower than the 6.7% increase in the second quarter, reflecting the "continued economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic," according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis at the Department of Commerce.

Top Dem says Big Oil put Earth on "brink" of catastrophe

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Don't expect a sedate House hearing Thursday on allegations that Big Oil has intentionally sown doubt about climate change.

What they're saying: "For far too long, Big Oil has escaped accountability for its central role in bringing our planet to the brink of a climate catastrophe. That ends today," Rep. Carolyn Maloney, chairwoman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, intends to say in her opening remarks shared with Axios.