The religious vote

A new survey by Pew:

President-elect Barack Obama made a concerted effort to reach out to people of faith during the 2008 presidential campaign, and early exit polls show that this outreach may have paid off on Election Day. Among nearly every religious group, the Democratic candidate received equal or higher levels of support compared with the 2004 Democratic nominee, John Kerry. Still, a sizeable gap persists between the support Obama received from white evangelical Protestants and his support among the religiously unaffiliated. Similarly, a sizeable gap exists between those who attend religious services regularly and those who attend less often.

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  • G. Kennedy

    First, I would like to thank you for using the term “evangelical Protestants”. Too often writers use general terms that tend to lump Christians together as a voting block in political discourse (your headline).

    The post-mortem analysis has started for the Republican party. Much of the discourse attributes the election result to our nation’s recent economic woes. I actually agree with the Republican message of fiscal responsibility, keeping taxes and government as small as possible. A different issue affected my choice as an independent voter.

    It may be Libertarian, but I wish the party’s preference for minimal government carried over into legislating personal behavior. In these matters, I feel the party sold out to the evangelicals. We are faced with two wars, a federal budget that is out of control, the falling value of the US dollar, and our nations falling standing in the global economy. I don’t think our government should spend already stretched resources on gay rights, abortion, creation/evolution or other morality issues.

    If I am in a ship taking on water, I don’t care about the morality of the person next to me. I just want them to heave out buckets of water along with me as fast as we can. We can figure out the rest when we are on dry land.

  • Jennifer B

    There has been a big shift amongst younger Christians. There are more and more of us that think that the call of Jesus to feed the hungry and care for the poor is essential to the Gospel.

    We’re sick of being told that the only moral issues are gay marriage and abortion. We think that poverty, education, healthcare, and environmental stewardship are moral issues as well.

    We think that being truly pro-life means tackling the issues that lead women to have abortions, not just passing a law banning abortions. It means standing up and encouraging the government to seek solutions other than war. It means making sure that once these kids are out of the womb, they have access to affordable healthcare and education.

    When it comes to those issues, many of us are no longer finding a lot of common ground with the republican party.

  • Elizabeth T

    While the Pew report is interesting, what I am left wondering is whether the distribution of voters based upon frequency of attendance is a result of political preference or whether it is just a representative slice of the greater American behavior.

    43% weekly attendees voted for Obama. Is this different than the behavior of the general public without considering voting? If 40-ish % of the public go to church weekly, then the statistic cited isn’t very informative.

    Too many look at politics and denigrate the need to pander to the ‘religious’. Of course appeal needs to be made to the “religious”, as much as any other bunch. Yet we don’t question the need to ‘get’ the Latino vote.

    The question to ask with religious politics is: “If you could only pick one, which would it be: an American or a [insert religious identity here]?” For many people generally identified as the ‘evangelical Christians’, these are synonymous. I see my identity as an American as completely separate from being Catholic.

    People are trying to give the US a make-over as a theocracy. A couple of books came out in ’07 on either side of this, claiming that America was/wasn’t founded as a “Christian nation”, respectively Ten Tortured Words and how the founding fathers sought to protect religion in America by Mansfield and American Theocracy by Philips.

    Is the purpose of these studies to more selectively target election campaigns? Or is it to facilitate policy development? Is it just to get elected – or is it to better understand the People?