Wednesday, July 06, 2011

The Relationship of Politics, Religion and Race

Nothing can stir up tension around the family barbeque as much as “politics” and “religion” and for still far too many, “race.”

The results of a new Gallup survey released last Friday show some interesting findings about religiosity, politics and ethnicity especially when viewed through the lens of the new categorization by the Pew Center according to values, political ideology and affiliation.

As a spiritual, post-modern Independent who is proud of his religious heritage but ambivalent about religious organizations, I wasn’t surprised to see that Independents overall divided as 9% very religious, 13% moderately religious and 15% non-religious.

White Americans tend to lean Republican if they are very religious and more toward the Democrats if they are moderately or non-religious.  But the surprise is that very religious Black, Hispanic and Asian Americans are all more likely to identify as Democrats.

Black Americans are 53% “very religious” compared to 45% for Hispanic Americans, 39% for White Americans and 29% for Asian Americans.  They fall in the same order when “moderately religious” respondents are added.

Another survey by the Pew Center reveals that last year, voters’ affiliations varied by type of religion.  While Protestants overall were only +6% Republican, White evangelicals and Mormons were +45% and +52% Republican respectively, while Black Protestants were +81% Democrat.  Political affiliation among Black Americans cannot just be attributed to the election of President Obama.  It has been consistent since at least 1992.

While Catholics overall were only +5% Democrat, Hispanic Catholics were +49% Democrat.  Those affiliated with the Jewish faith and those unaffiliated were +27% and +28% Democrat respectively.

After pulling even in 2007, the percentage of Americans believing Places of Worship should stay out of politics is back up to 52% compared to 54% in 1996.

The only sub-groups of Americans where a majority believe there is too little protestation of faith by political leaders are conservatives, White evangelicals and Black Protestants at 54%, 56% and 51% respectively.

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