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Should Wedding-Related Businesses Be Forced to Serve Gays? (Plus: The State of Religion in American Society)

Plastic figurines depicting a female couple and a male couple, displayed on a table, at the Gay marriage fair, in Paris, Saturday, April 27, 2013. Lesbian and gay cake toppers, his-and-his wedding bands, flower-themed tuxedo bow ties: Marketing whizzes have held France's first gay-marriage fair four days after parliament legalized same-sex wedlock. Wedding planners, photographers and high-end tailors pitched their services at the Paris fair Saturday. Police stood guard outside a precautionary measure after recent bouts of anti-gay violence by foes of same-sex marriage. The legislation sparked huge protests across France. Credit: AP

Americans are starkly divided over whether wedding-related businesses should be forced to serve gay and lesbian clients, according to new survey results from the Pew Research Center.

When asked whether businesses should be permitted to refuse matrimonial service based on "religious reasons," 47 percent of respondents agreed that they should, while 49 percent said owners should be required to serve gay couples; four percent didn't know which side to take.

The study, which measures numerous facets pertaining to faith in American life, also found that the vast majority of respondents (72 percent) believe that religion is losing its influence in American society.

But most aren't happy with this change, with 56 percent of the nation calling it a negative development.

Pew Research Center Pew Research Center

Another surprising fact — perhaps a reaction to the widely-held belief that the influence of religion is on the decline — is the notion that a growing proportion of Americans want to see faith play a bigger role in politics.

While 41 percent of respondents said that there is "too little" expression of faith and prayer from political leaders (up from 37 percent in 2010), 49 percent say that churches and houses of worship should express views on social and political issues (up from 43 percent in 2010).

Additionally, while the majority (63 percent) still oppose churches endorsing candidates, 32 percent of respondents now believe that houses of worship should back candidates, which is up from 24 percent in 2010. 

Read the results here.

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