Religion and the U.S. political divide

It’s striking how religious divisions in the United State coincide with political divisions. It’s also striking how little the religious divisions have to do with theological beliefs.

Roughly 80 percent of white American evangelical Protestants vote Republican. Roughly 80 percent of Americans with no particular religion vote Democratic.

But this is not based on theological beliefs. Black American evangelical Protestants have the same theological beliefs as white evangelicals.

They believe in being born again and accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. But black evangelicals are as reliably Democratic and white evangelicals are Republican.

I can remember the 1950s, when theological beliefs were important. Evangelical Protestants thought Mormons were a “cult.”

Prior to the Second Vatican Council, many Unitarians and Universalists thought that Roman Catholics, not evangelical Protestants, were the people you had to watch out for, precisely because of their theology.

Nowadays sectarian religious beliefs are less important. The division is between those who cling to traditional religion, of whatever kind, and those who embrace modern and secular ways of thinking.

Conservative Protestants, Catholics and Jews are on one side and liberal Protestants, Catholics and Jews are on the other.  People who used to think each other were bound for Hell are now political allies.

The argument is not over specific religious doctrines, but over whether and how much to accept what’s called modernity, including, in recent years, the sexual revolution.

My hope used to be that the old-time live-and-let-live liberalism offered a way for people of differing opinions to live together, but this does not seem to be on offer.

LINKS

Secular ‘values voters’ are becoming an electoral force in the US – just look closely at 2020’s results by Phil Zuckerman, professor of sociology and secular studies at Pitzer College.

What the election tells us about religion in America by Jennifer Rubin for The Washington Post.

In U.S., Decline of Christianity Continues at Rapid Pace by the Pew Research Center.

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4 Responses to “Religion and the U.S. political divide”

  1. Fred (Au Natural) Says:

    Welcome to the New World.

    The big struggle isn’t against hate. It is between relatively small power blocks on opposite sides on almost every issue. Hating the other side’s hate seems to be the primary method of motivating soldiers in the struggle. Once the struggle becomes adversarial, “winning” in some fashion becomes paramount. Principle is abandoned and the enemy ceases to be human.

    Leftists who cannot find empathy and concern in their hearts for their opponents are as much a danger to equality and justice as are their “rightist”opponents who cannot seem to do so either.

    There is a large apathetic center that stares uncomprehendingly when either side scores a point and and then goes back to living.

    Whoever wins, the center (aka “the masses” or the “silent majority” or the “proletariat”) will just nod to the winner and go on about its business. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

    Or the two sides may discover a vested interest in keeping the other in play to fight against. It was clever for Orwell to have realized this.

    Like

  2. Vincent Says:

    Your first sentence has “religious” twice. I assume the second one is meant to say “political”, or is it the first?

    Like

  3. Hank Stone Says:

    This seems right on all counts. There seems to be no appeal to reason, or faith, that bridges the divide. So how does this resolve itself? 1) Things get worse and we have some flavor of war, or 2) Things get worse, but before the whole thing collapses, enough people are jarred awake that new cooperative paths can be found–in time to avoid war. Therefore, civility, communication, cooperation and compromise offer our best hope of a positive outcome.

    Like

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