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Religion and politics?

  1. Sep 5, 2006 #1

    BobG

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    Interesting polling report from Pew Research Center on people's impression of mixing politics and religion: Many Americans Uneasy with Mix of Religion and Politics

    Some of the results are surprising.

    69% feel liberals have gone too far in keeping religion out of school and government, including 60% of Democrats.
    49% feel Christian conservatives have gone too far in trying to impose religious values on the country, including 31% of Republicans.
    The totals add up to more than 100% because some people believe both have gone too far (me for example) and some believe neither have gone too far.

    In spite of the high number of people believing liberals have gone too far to resist religion, 67% of people see the US as a Christian nation - down from the 71% in 2005, but up from the 60% of 1996.

    Only 26% of people (and 40% of Democrats) see the Democratic Party as friendly to religion. That's a problem for Democrats, especially considering the polarization within their own party.
    - 45% of Democrats see religious influence increasing with twice as many of those Dems seeing that as a bad thing than good thing.
    - 43% of Democrats see religious influence decreasing with nearly four times as many of those Dems seeing that as a bad thing.
    In other words, people's perception of whether influence is increasing or decreasing probably depends more on their fears than reality - something that's sometimes harder to fight than a real problem.

    On the other hand, only 47% of people see the Republican Party as friendly to religion. That's down 8% from a year ago. Who's opinion has changed? White evangelicals (dropped from 63% to 49%) and Catholics (55% to 41%). Once again, you have a conflict - Republicans pay more attention to conservative religious groups, but the groups notice broken promises more (or does it just look like Republicans pay more attention to someone in the 10% who sees the influence of the Conservative Christian movement as a bad thing).

    44% of people have a favorable view of the Christian conservative movement to only 36% with an unfavorable view, however, that includes evangelical Christians (71% approval rate). The only other group with a favorable view of the Christian conservative movement is people with a high school education or less (52%-25%). Catholics are split 39%-38% between favorable and unfavorable.
     
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  3. Sep 5, 2006 #2

    Astronuc

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    What is wrong with keeping religion as a personal thing? If people want to share a religious experience then go to a religious institution - of one's choice. If one wants to share that experience with others who do not attend that institution, then INVITE others - but do not impose it on other people. What is so hard about that!?!

    The problem with some is that they want to evangelize or proselytize, and they want to use the schools to do that.

    When I was in school, I certainly did not want to listen to someone else's prayers or invocation.

    The US is supposed to be a 'pluralistic' nation - politically, socially, culturally, ethnically, racially, and religiously. Diversity makes it interesting. It's not just black and white, but multicolor.
     
  4. Sep 5, 2006 #3

    selfAdjoint

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    Well, of course I agree with you. I would suppose most of us here do. But a large chunk of the American people evidently don't agree with us, and that worries me.
     
  5. Sep 5, 2006 #4

    Evo

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    Only 11 percent said they were agnostic/atheist or belonged to no religion. No wonder the results are what they are. Talk about skewed.
     
  6. Sep 5, 2006 #5

    turbo

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    And that is troublesome. The people with the tightest stranglehold on the media will get their message heard again and again. Reasonable people who want to give all people voices in this matter are shouted down and derided as being "soft" on "whatever topic the hard-liner wants to vilify you for." We in the US are in a political environment in which either political partry can ruin us, yet the party functionaries couch their campaign issues as if they were simple zero-sum games. For instance, we've got W saying over and over again that "it's better to fight the terrorists over there than here." The problem is that the people who blew up the Twin Trade Towers came from Saudi Arabia and Egypt - countries that he and his daddy have a special fondness for. Other terrorists who plague us come from SAS and Yemen, including Bin Laden. After 9/11, Bush made sure that members of the Bin Ladin family and the Saudi royal family were spirited out of the country, while none of us US citizens were allowed to fly. None of the hijackers came from Iraq, yet we have fomented civil war and have killed tens of thousands of them to forward Bush's agenda. I propose a constitutional amendment that says that every time a president declares war without the express concent of Congress, he has to stay in the field with the troops and lead the war. That would have prevented this one. He's a gutless slug.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2006
  7. Sep 5, 2006 #6

    selfAdjoint

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    We have a Constitutional clause - original, not an amendment - that says a president CANNOT declare war in any way shape or form; that power is granted only to Congress. What we need is an amendment that will hold the Congresspeople's feet to the fire when they try to fob it off to the Executive Branch. Something no law they might pass could do, so they do it by "resolutions" which have no power to constrain and are thus not subject to Constitutional limits.

    But I fail to see what this issue has to do with the large pluralities of American citizens who apparently think we should have a theocracy. Aftr all, the topic of the thread is Religion and Politics, not One More Time Around wIth the Declaration of War.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2006
  8. Sep 6, 2006 #7

    BobG

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    Even worse, 7% of that 11% belong to the religious left or religious right. (An interesting survey question would be how many people understand the meaning of 'secular'.)

    I think the religious right is a trend even more significant than the civil rights movement of the 60's. I'm amazed at how the Christian Conservative movement has crept up and become such a force. Not only has the 'religious right' accumulated a sizable block of white evangelical Christians (20% of them), but they've also drawn a sizable block of black voters (19%). They have a lot more unity on issues, which multiplies their effect beyond just a percentage of the populace.

    It's also skewed Republican politics with 25% of conservative Republicans considering themselves part of the religious right. It has a dramatic impact, especially in primaries where the casual voter tends to not show up.

    The Republican primary for the House in my district was a perfect example. The retiring Republican had hand-picked his successor and paved the way for him to step into the House Armed Services Committee that's extremely important to our district. The hand-picked successor and the Christian Conservative candidate had almost identical views, except the Christian Conservative candidate has no security clearances and no inside track in Congress (i.e. - he'll be a true freshman Congressman). The choice should be a slam dunk, except there is a difference between the candidates - priorities. The Christian Conservative will devote more time on social issues in Congress, while the hand-picked successor would devote more time to bringing more defense related business to the district. The Christian Conservative candidate wins the primary in a contest so heated that the Republican Party is almost ready to split. The retiring Congressman was almost persuaded to change his mind and run as a write-in candidate and now he refuses to endorse the Republican candidate for his seat. We'll see what happens in November. Most likely outcome is the Republican still wins in our heavily Republican district, but voter turnout is so low that the Republican candidate for governor loses.
     
  9. Sep 6, 2006 #8

    selfAdjoint

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    BobG, what you report is in fact the best news we could have about the Christian right in politics. That they are big enough to be a spoiler in primaries, but not big enough to elect a congressional candidate (maybe). Thus they will over the next few years be marginalized one way or another by the business-oriented republicans. We'll have the same thing that happened with Nader and the Democrats. And they'll wind up as just another of the myriad yapping minorities on the US political landscape. Ojala!
     
  10. Sep 6, 2006 #9

    arildno

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    Is it really unrepresentative?
    Isn't just about 10% of the US population agnostics/atheists?
     
  11. Sep 6, 2006 #10

    Evo

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    That would be funny if it wasn't true. :frown:

    Christian Conservatives are very highly organized and will spare no expense to achieve their goals, it's very frightening.

    Arildno, I don't know the percentages, perhaps someone else does, but 89% seems too high. Of course I guess when questioned people might automatically respond with a religious affiliation when they aren't really actively practising the religion. Perhaps I just hang out with too many sinners.
     
  12. Sep 6, 2006 #11

    turbo

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    Sounds like my kind of crowd.

    I'd rather laugh with the sinners
    Than cry with the saints
    The sinners are much more fun

    Billy Joel
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2006
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