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Religion in America: Putnam & Campbell Religion & Politics.

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1 Religion in America: Putnam & Campbell Religion & Politics

2 Religious White Response to Increasing Diversity Common to hear that for whites, religion and racism go hand in hand – But Americans who are more religious or less religious displayed precisely the same liberalizing in racial attitudes over four decades. Religiosity has no relationship to attitudes on race – After the 1970s, different traditions have identical trends of religious liberalization – On the whole, religion has passively adapted to broad social shifts However, evangelicals are notably less likely to support systematic efforts to address racism, or indeed to accept the existence of racism as a systematic problem – Emerson & Smith: Evangelicals have a deeply held individualistic belief system that prevents them from considering systematic explanationsand remediesfor racial discrimination. ( ) 2

3 Fig

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5 Religion & Politics Religion-as-identity – I am a particular sort of person. Religion-as-ethic – God wants me to... Religion-as-worldview – The world works like this: everybody makes their own choices. Religion-as-social identifier – Its us against them. ALL of these things come into play at the intersection of religion & politics – Politics is a sphere of human activity in which morality, identity, ontology and culture are each called into play simultaneously. 5

6 Living Word Christian Center Minneapolis megachurch Charismatic Christianity – Speaking in tongues, faith healings Weber: Rationalization drives religion into the irrational? God wants you to be a winner in every area of life – Prosperity Gospel – Churches that keep their clergy poor, keep their ministry poor Diverse congregation – Active outreach to immigrant communities – A small groups program: Creating community is about creating relationships and groups around affinity. Social issues (welfare, immigration, free trade, foreign policy) vs. moral issues (abortion, homosexuality) – Pastor Hammond: Forget the social issues! Your vote is in line with the moral issues! – Enthusiastic support of Michele Bachmann, Focus on the Family ( ) 6

7 Beth Emet the Free Synagogue Reform Judaism, Skokie, IL Free pulpit: Rabbi can say whatever he wants to, and so can everyone else Priority of autonomy of the individual Intellectualized discourse is popular at Beth Emet largely because more religious ideas about faith and spirituality fail to resonate with most of the synagogues members, who describe their personal experience of Judaism as tending toward secularism. Rabbi emphasizes liberal social action over religious observance – I dont feel like I have a responsibility to push people to light Shabbat candles. [...] If I got everybody in the congregation to give ten hours of community service because they felt compelled by their religious tradition to do so, Id feel like Id done a lot. Jewish identity & tradition – Even though we may have some very different views on faith, observance everything. Weve shared a collective experience even though weve never met. ( ) 7

8 Pioneer Ward Suburb of Salt Lake city Ward = congregation, stake = cluster of wards – Geographic boundary system: ward community socially, economically diverse Pervasive emphasis on social cohesion – Emphasis on high level of voluntary involvement in church activities (callings) – Family Home Evening Official policy of apoliticism on the local level Except for Prop 8, which was explicitly supported – Theres not a lot of political discussion, but theres an awful lot of civics that are discussed. – Pioneer Ward unusual, significant Democrat presence (90% LDS members Republican) – Pressure to conform to the norm: Gloria: There has always been kind of this tension within the church about politicstheres always been kind of this unsaid belief that you cant be a Democrat and a good Mormon. ( ) 8

9 The correlation between religiosity and conservative politics ha primarily to do with two topics: – Abortion – Homosexuality Pre- ~1980, support for or opposition to abortion rights was not uniform within political parties. – Abortion initially seen as a Catholic issue Attitudes toward these two subjects are shifting among both religious and nonreligious Americans – More accepting of homosexuality, more skeptical of abortion rights If the religious association were to disappear, we would expect to see religion be less correlated to conservative politics ( , ) 9

10 Association between the highly religious and the Republican party not uniform across groups 70% highly religious evangelicals & Mormons identify as Republicans 65% highly religious mainline Protestants 35% highly religious Catholics 14% highly religious Black Protestants A tendency is not a certainty ( ) 10

11 Generation Gap 11.3 REMEMBER TO EXPLAIN R VALUE. The interest is in the increase, NOT in its predictive power 11



14 Enthusiasm Gap Most Americans have views somewhere in the space between advocating the right to abortion in all cases and banning it absolutely – Pro-choice, but... But those who oppose it absolutely tend to feel more strongly than those who support access to abortion as an absolute right The same is true of same-sex marriage (394) 14



17 This has led to the Republican Party placing much more visible emphasis on their opposition to these issues than the Democrats do any support Take the case presented as a not-necessarily representative example. Its for an election in Ohio – The Republicans have thus been able to frame themselves as a party representing traditional morality & religion – Democrats tend to be perceived as neutral to religion If the trend among the young to turn away from religion and the unpopularity of the religious right continue, it is not clear that being the party of religion will continue to be an electoral strength ( ) 17


19 Same-Sex Marriage Opinions on gay marriage have been shifting rapidly Both the most religious post-boomer and the least religious pre-boomer are 32% likely to support gay marriage – As younger generations, who are more accepting of gay marriage, come to dominate a greater share of the electorate, opposition to same-sex marriage will become a less attractive electoral wedge Nonetheless, pockets of intense resistence are expected to remain ( ) 19


21 Though both significantly less likely to be religious and much more sexually permissive than their elders, young are more ambivalent about abortion than are baby boomers General Social Survey: in how many of the following circumstances would you approve of an abortion? – If there is a strong chance of serious defects in the baby – If the woman is married and does not want any more children – If the womans own health is seriously endangered by the pregnancy – If the family has a very low income and cannot afford any more children – If the woman became pregnant as a result of rape – If the woman is not married and does not want to marry the man ( ) Note: approve of is conceptually different from should it be legal. 21


23 What explains the ups & downs? Possibilities – Political framing by leadership Achievement of womens liberation, possibility of overturning Roe V. Wade, popularity of parental consent laws, etc. – Availability of birth control Unwanted pregnancy seen as lapse of responsibility – No knowledge of world without abortion rights – Ultrasounds ( ) The Juno Generation – Ugh! 23

24 Electoral politics is partly a matter of finding issues that mobilize enough voters to show up on election day As different issues become politically salient, different coalitions emerge 24

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