R. Justin Shepherd | PART-TIME PUNDIT

End of the Religious Right?
13.August.2008, 6.54 am
Filed under: politics | Tags: , , , ,

I’ve been arguing for years that Christians need to take a step back, politically speaking, and start considering more than simple tacit support for abortion restrictions… and while I doubt I’ve talked to anyone who was surveyed, that notion seems to be catching on. From a new Barna poll:

For the most part, the various faith communities of the U.S. currently support Sen. Obama for the presidency. Among the 19 faith segments that The Barna Group tracks, evangelicals were the only segment to throw its support to Sen. McCain. Among the larger faith niches to support Sen. Obama are non-evangelical born again Christians (43% to 31%); notional Christians (44% to 28%); people aligned with faiths other than Christianity (56% to 24%); atheists and agnostics (55% to 17%); Catholics (39% vs. 29%); and Protestants (43% to 34%). In fact, if the current preferences stand pat, this would mark the first time in more than two decades that the born again vote has swung toward the Democratic candidate.

However, while there has been little movement since the beginning of June among most voting segments (such as ethnic groups, age groups, or geographic slices), there has been substantial churn among religious segments. During the past two months, Sen. Obama’s lead has eroded substantially among non-evangelical born again Christians (a decline of nine points); active Christians (a 20-point drop); Protestants (down 13 points); and Catholics (down 11 points).

While some Christian voters seem to be questioning their early support for Obama, the McCain candidacy does not seem to be gaining momentum among evangelicals. Since June, the current level of support Sen. McCain has among evangelical voters has declined significantly (dropping from 78% to 61%).

Most interesting to me is that last graf: McCain’s support among evangelicals has declined, despite the fact that the “Original Maverick” has been tacking to the right on a whole host of things, including his relationships with so-called evangelical leaders like John Hagee. Are we as a body of faith becoming more pragmatic? Less susceptible to being fooled by wolves in sheeps’ clothing?

I recently read a book called “Tempting Faith” by David Kuo, a former adviser to President Bush on faith-based initiatives. Any Christian who’s into politics should read it; anyone who thinks that the country is going to hell because of some lack of faith should read it twice. Kuo’s got hardly anything bad to say about Bush, and it’s certainly no GOP-bashing book. It does, however, provide a sobering look at the entirely different aims of faith and politics, and how in Washington the latter always takes precedence over the former. (If you’re skeptical, consider this blurb from The American Conservative, a political magazine that likely boasts more engaged Christians than any other: “Tempting Faith is one of those rare Washington books that is worth reading — clearly written, disarmingly honest, thoughtfully introspective, and unusually substantive…. A refreshingly honest account of how politics can seduce the best intentioned and the most naïve.”)


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