Posts Tagged ‘Pew Research’

A nation of volunteers

October 6, 2016

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When the Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville visited the United States in the 1830s, he was impressed by how much of the work of society was carried on by voluntary organizations.

Americans of that day did not wait for government to authorize them to carry out necessary civic tasks.  They (or at least a critical mass of them) did not hold back because others weren’t pulling their weight.  If they saw something that needed to be done, they went ahead and did it.

What’s interesting to me about this Pew religious survey is not so much that highly religious people do more volunteer work than the non-religious as the fact that the volunteer spirit is still very much alive in the USA.

If you factor out church work, then roughly one-fourth of Americans across the spectrum of religious belief voluntarily do work for the benefit of society.

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Voters divide on issues mostly along party lines

April 4, 2016

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I think the current crisis of American politics is the inability to fit three radically different political movements—for change in our capitalist system (Bernie Sanders), for change in our democratic system (Donald Trump, Ted Cruz) and defenders of the status quo (Hillary Clinton, John Kasich).

Evidently voters see things differently.  Recent Pew Research polls, summarized in the chart above, show that the opinions of American voters on most issues are divided very clearly along party lines.

I was surprised that fewer Sanders supporters said they are angry at the government than are supporters of any of the Republican candidates.

I was not surprised that Trump supporters are more united in opposition to free trade than supporters of any other faction, but I was surprised that Sanders supporters favor free trade in almost the same numbers as Clinton supporters.

The only big difference among the candidates that overlaps party lines is that more Sanders and Trump supporters think that U.S. global involvement makes things worse than Clinton, Cruz or Kasich supporters do.

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Racial diversity and American religion

August 2, 2015

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We Unitarian Universalists value diversity and try to welcome all people, regardless of race.  So why are we so much more racially homogeneous than the Seventh Day Adventists and the Jehovah’s Witnesses?

I think the reason is that the intensity of the Adventists’ and Witnesses’ belief in their dogmas makes other considerations, such as race, unimportant.  The same thing is true of the Bahai.

We UUs are a big tent in terms of religious belief (even if relatively few people are under it).  But a non-creedal religion is something that college-educated white people tend to want more than people of other ethnicities and backgrounds do.

Should we give up our distinctive trait in order to broaden our appeal?  I don’t think that anybody—white or black—would want to affiliate with a group of people who are embarrassed about what they are.

One question that this chart raises is whether diversity within groups is compatible with diversity among groups.

I wouldn’t want to see the African Methodist Episcopal Church or the National Baptist Convention give up their identity as black churches.  And I don’t see how you could have a strong AME Church if the United Methodists recruited a large number of their members.

Likewise, it may be the case that the Missouri Synod Lutherans or the Evangelical Lutheran Church have traditions thjat are more meaningful to Germans or German-Americans than to the general public..

Religion is supposed to express universal values, but these values are rooted in particular heritages.  Get rid of these heritages and there might not be much left.

LINK

The most and least racially diverse U.S. religious groups by Pew Research.

Pro-science religion and anti-science religion

May 27, 2015

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What this chart indicates is that the big religious split in the United States is not between Protestants and Catholics, or among Christians, Jews and Muslims, but between pro-science religion and anti-science religion.

This chart is based on a 2007 survey by Pew Research.  It will be interesting to see if the 2014 survey is significantly different.

LINKS

Evolution, Science and Religion by Josh Rosenau for the Science League of America.

Our new pro-science pontiff: Pope Francis on climate change, evolution and the Big Bang by Chris Mooney for the Washington Post.

Public opinion and Obamacare

September 26, 2013

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This opinion poll by Pew Research indicates that more than half of the opponents of the Affordable Care Act think that elected officials should try to make it work as well as possible rather than sabotaging it and making it worse.

Some time back I saw a public opinion poll that indicated that some of the opponents of Obamacare oppose it because (like me) they would prefer a single-payer system (Medicare for everybody) or a public option as a voluntary alternative to private insurance.  I wasn’t able to find the poll in a Google search. 

[Update: In the latest CNN poll, 54 percent of respondents opposed Obamacare, but of that group, 16 percent opposed it because they thought the bill was not liberal enough.]

What I’d be interested in seeing is a current poll of the opponents of Obamacare giving a breakdown as to (1) those who oppose it because they think it won’t provide affordable health insurance to the currently uninsured and (2) those who oppose it because they are opposed in principle to the government spending money to give people medical care.  I’d also like to see a breakdown of opponents who would like the government to (a) do more or (b) do less.

But whatever Americans think of the Affordable Care Act, a majority disagree with shutting down the government or risking a default on government in order to prevent it from being implemented.

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It’s the Democrats who back NSA spying

June 18, 2013
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Back during the Bush administration, many Democrats, including Senators Barack Obama and Joe Biden, opposed warrant-less wiretapping.   But now that the Democrats are in power, there has been a change of mind.

It is a great example of how much politics is a matter of group loyalty rather than loyalty to principle.  Obamaphiles are in favor of whatever President Obama favors, and Obamaphobes are opposed, no matter what.

Presidents Ronald Reagan was noted for “dog whistles”—phraseology that the general public didn’t notice, but that reassured conservative Christians that he really was on their side.  President Obama has a genius for liberal dog whistles.  Liberals believe he is on our side at heart in spite of all the things he actually does.

Click on Majority Views NSA Phone Tracking as Acceptable Anti-Terror Tactic for the complete results of the Pew Research poll.

Click on Americans Disapprove of Government Surveillance Programs for the complete result of the Gallup poll.

Both Pew and Gallup found that the NSA surveillance program gets more support from Democrats than Republicans.

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