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Almost half of American pastors believe they influence how their congregations vote, according to a recent survey by the Barna Group.

The study, which involved 475 senior or executive Protestant pastors between Sept. 24 and 28, found that 74% of those who responded were somewhat or very concerned about the impact the upcoming presidential election could have on their church.

At the same time, 44% of pastors said they probably or definitely influence the way their congregation votes, though 79% of them somewhat or strongly disagree that they have a responsibility to teach their church members which candidate to choose.

The survey, from the California-based Christian research firm Barna, found that two-thirds of those who responded said the upcoming election would not divide their congregation.

With less than a month before the presidential election, both candidates are courting religious voters. Democratic nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden, who is Catholic, has talked openly about his faith on the campaign trail. Last week, more than 1,600 U.S. faith leaders representing a variety of Christian traditions voiced support for Biden.

President Donald Trump, who identifies as Presbyterian, rose to prominence in the Republican party and eventually the presidency thanks to support from white evangelical voters. Much of that support lies in Trump's support for Israel and his push to appoint conservative judges, seen most recently in the ongoing Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to replace former Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

A Pew Research Center poll released Tuesday of 10,543 U.S. registered voters across the country found Trump continues to hold a commanding lead among white evangelicals, with 78% supporting him. The president also polls above Biden for white Catholics and white non-evangelical Protestants.

However, the former vice president leads Trump among all Catholics with 51% support, among Black Protestants with 90% support, among Jewish voters with 70% support and with the religiously unaffiliated with 71% support.

The poll found Trump saw a slight decrease in support from white Protestants, but they are still expected to vote overwhelmingly in favor of the Republican incumbent.

In 2016, Trump won 55.8% of the vote in Hamilton County on his way to carrying the state of Tennessee.

Contact Wyatt Massey at wmassey@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6249. Follow him on Twitter @news4mass.

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