The Corpus Callosum

Within the past year, public sentiment has shifted.  It has
been changing slowly, but steadily.  Sometime in the past
year, it
reached the crossover point.  Now there is a simple majority
who think that religious groups should stay out of politics.

From the Pew
Research Center for the People & the Press

Americans Question Religion’s Role In Politics

Some Social Conservative Disillusionment
August 21, 2008

Some Americans are having a change of heart about
mixing religion and politics. A new survey finds a narrow majority of
the public saying that churches and other houses of worship should keep
out of political matters and not express their views on day-to-day
social and political matters. For a decade, majorities of Americans had
voiced support for religious institutions speaking out on such issues.

Perhaps more importantly, the gap between liberal persons and
conservative persons has vanished.  Fifty percent of
say that churches should keep out of politics.  Some persons
they are uncomfortable when they listen to politicians talk about how
religious they are.  That percentage has increased: 40% in
to 46% in 2008.

The survey cannot tell us why this shift has occurred.  It
however, tell us the demographic bloc in which the greatest amount of
change occurred.

One of the findings of the survey, was that conservatives are
increasingly likely to view the government as hostile to religion.
 Specifically, in 2004, 29% of respondents said that the
Republican Party is “unfriendly to religion.”  In 2008, 53% of
people expressed that view.  This was interpreted in the Pew
report as meaning that social conservatives are discontented.
 Supporting that view, is this finding:

The greatest increases since 2004 in the view that
churches and other
houses of worship should not express themselves on political matters
have occurred among less-educated Republicans and people who say that
social issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage will be important
to their vote. For example, among people who rate gay marriage as a top
voting issue, the percentage saying that churches should stay out of
politics soared from 25% in 2004 to 50% currently; there was little
change over this period on this question among people who do not view
same-sex marriage as a very important issue.

This group, those who are discontented with the major Party’s
receptiveness to religion, are increasingly likely to say that churches
should stay out of politics.  This is true even though their
religious values have not changed.

It is not possible to know what motivated this change in attitude; all
we can do is speculate about that.  Perhaps they think that
churches should stay out of politics because they think it is
pointless: No one is listening, so why say anything?

Another interesting finding, is that there has been a decline in the
percentage of registered voters who list abortion and gay marriage as a
top issue:

By far, the biggest change was that +23% in Energy.  Also
is the drop in persons who think of terrorism as a top concern.
 In fact, health care now ranks above terrorism.  

That makes sense, because of the simple fact that health care will save
more lives than the war on terrorism ever could.

The report is about the shift in attitudes toward the separation of
church and state, though, so it would be difficult to use it to draw
conclusions about the other subjects.  

What are the implications of the survey results?  Religious
conservatives may be less inclined to seek political solutions for what
they perceive to be social problems.  Elections tend to be
determined by voter turnout.  With more voters being highly
motivated by the economy,energy, health care, and education, perhaps
the candidates who are most active on those issues will be the most


  1. #1 Zeno
    September 2, 2008

    Religious conservatives are planning an all-out assault on the notion that churches should refrain from making political endorsements. How big it will be, I can’t say, but The Pulpit Initiative project is aiming at September 28 as the day when “thousands” of ministers will harangue their flocks as to the right way to vote in November. Just a guess: They won’t be endorsing Obama.

  2. #2 KAS
    September 5, 2008

    Would it be fitting to say ‘thank god’!

    I absolutely agree. I have become far more engrossed in politics as I age; and this has got to be the biggest, most detrimental infringement on this country’s ability to succeed in all our history. There is not separation of church and state as was blatantly relevant in the ‘do you believe in god strong enough’ interview we saw both candidate’s go through a month or so back. It’s disgusting. Ignorant religious followers that believe religion is the sole source of ethics are so unbelievably off point that it has just become an example of how far humanity has not come. Everyone should be able to believe what they want, but the imbuement of religion on government, infringes upon my right in believing otherwise. And I, I assure you, am not the antichrist. I have better morals than most, am kind and more generous than most, served my country and know quite clearly the difference between right and wrong. I also am one of those rare breads that are not naturally selfish and I partake in selflessness organically and sometimes self detrimentally. The government enacts laws to govern individual ethics (abortion, same sex marriage, marijuana usage) and it is sad. Very sad… The government enacts laws to take from the people, lock them away unsparingly, murder unjustly their own condemned, spy on their own citizens through the patriot act and various branches and take far more funds to operate an obscenely large government than is ever healthy for a balance of power. This country is not in the power of the people, no matter how much the words are said, the actions show clearly otherwise.

    A country that was established on the basis of freedom has little left to show for it. This miniscule change for the better is like a far away beacon, a glimmer, through the fog and mist of the open sea. That lighthouse glimmer that is not hope, desire or a dream… it’s a blinking nugget of knowledge. Progression of the organism that is society will take many, many years. I can only hope to be around for a year in which I truly feel I live in a country that I agree is governed correctly, and is reflective of the minds eye of the average individual. This is when the glimmer will instead become and illuminated society that has experienced a psychological progression; which will be for the better of our society as a whole, while also opening up additional doors in our mind that will lead to understandings beyond our current comprehension.

    We must remember that we are the same exact people as the people that murder our cousins, gorilla’s and chimpanzee’s, for a delicacy or for ritual. We are the same exact people that have constructed the rationale of the slaughterers in Darfur. The same minds that we share are terrorists and leaders of human atrocities and the concentration camps. Our ability to progress is in what we share, information. If the information is bad, so are we.

    To progress, we as a society must make the best choices for all. Not the best choices for I.

    Repeating the past, with new players, is not change. Steps are small, but we must have the insight to know which way those steps are leading. Obama for president!


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