Economic recovery is the most important political issue facing America in 2012, according to the year-end Evangelical Leaders Survey. The open-ended question led to a variety of responses, but economic issues, including the reduction of poverty, unemployment, taxation and the national debt, clearly dominated the survey.

“The economy is the focus of national debate, so it’s not surprising to see it top the list,” said Leith Anderson, President of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). “Our leaders understand that a poor economy negatively interacts with many other issues that evangelicals care about including the growing disparity between the rich and poor, adequate health care, marriage, immigration reform, national security and abortion.”

Foreign policy was a distant second, but the concerns were many — religious persecution, nuclear terrorism, instability in the Middle East, the war in Afghanistan, and Islamic relations, among others. Many respondents also listed immigration reform, defending marriage and protecting the unborn among their top concerns.

Greg Johnson, President of Standing Together, said, “First and foremost, we need to honor God as a nation. We need leaders who will protect life, defend marriage, and care for the least of these among us. Second, we need to tackle our debt as a nation, and yes, this means we need to cut our national spending significantly. Third, we must get Americans back to work. We need job creation efforts to succeed. Fourth, we need to fix our immigration issues, compassionately and fairly.”

Galen Carey, NAE Vice President of Government Relations, said, “Evangelicals care deeply about the health of our nation. We recognize that a strong moral foundation based on justice and righteousness in all areas of our national life is the essential prerequisite to a safe and prosperous future.”

Other topics cited ranged broadly to include political polarization, the role and size of the government, health care reform, environmental concerns and sex trafficking.

The Evangelical Leaders Survey is a monthly poll of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Evangelicals. They include the CEOs of denominations and representatives of a broad array of evangelical organizations including missions, universities, publishers and churches.