10 Areas Where Religion May Influence the 2012 Elections


10 Areas Where Religion May Influence the 2012 Elections | Robert Parham, Elections, Religion

Some 15 percent of Latinos are identified as "Latino evangelicals," apparently a growing population, Parham writes. They may hold the key to swing states.
The left-leaning Center for American Progress posted a list of 10 things folk should know about religion that very well may influence the 2012 elections.

First is that "all major religious groups favor a more equitable distribution of wealth."

A link to the Public Religion Research Institute has a chart showing that 60 percent of Americans "say society would be better off if the distribution of wealth was more equal."

Interestingly, 55 percent of white mainline Protestants hold this view compared to 53 percent of white evangelicals. Sixty-one percent of Catholics and 79 percent of black Protestants hold this view.

Second is that "Latino evangelicals may hold the key to swing states."

Some 15 percent of Latinos are identified as "Latino evangelicals," apparently a growing population.

Evangelical Latinos rank the economy and immigration reform as their top issues. They are also concerned about same-sex marriage and abortion.

Third is that Mormon leaders are unlikely to endorse Romney. Mormon leaders reportedly want to avoid electoral politics. Would that conservative white evangelical leaders were as sensitive as Mormon leaders.

Fourth is that white Catholics are leaning Republican and white mainline Protestants are leaning Democratic, a shift from 50 years ago.

Fifth, the Public Religion Research Institute has found that "two-thirds of voters say it's important for a presidential candidate to have strong religious beliefs." Voters want the president to share their own "moral compass."

Sixth is the idea that "religious affiliation ... is waning." Consequently, candidates who want to address moral issues face a challenge of doing so without alienating other voters.

Seventh relates to anti-Muslim fear. Republican anti-Islamic rhetoric may be costing the GOP votes. Muslims reportedly mirror Republican views on same-sex marriage and free enterprise, but anti-Sharia bills in state legislatures and anti-Islamic commentary push Muslim voters to the left.

Eighth is the claim that evangelicals are not a monolithic voting-block.

This acknowledgment is more nuanced and less hyper than the claim in 2008 by Jim Wallis, Richard Cizik and others that evangelicals were shifting away from the Christian Right and toward a broader moral agenda, which meant that the evangelical voting-block was up for grabs.

An EthicsDaily.com editorial challenged the narrative that "a historic shift is occurring" among evangelicals.

A few weeks later, University of Akron professor John Green reported that his survey results had "found that the party preferences of white evangelical voters are almost exactly the same in 2008 as they were at the same point in the Bush-Kerry race in 2004."

How white evangelicals vote this year and vote along generational lines should be one of the more interesting demographics to watch.

Ninth is the recognition that "evangelical king-making days are over."

EthicsDaily.com has questioned the influence of the Christian Right, including the meeting at Paul Pressler's ranch to endorse former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum. Their endorsement did little to help Santorum in South Carolina, where former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich won.

Perhaps their backing will help Santorum in the Southern primaries, although their earlier endorsement of Gov. Rick Perry bore little fruit.

Tenth is the view that religious liberty will be a "divisive weapon in 2012."

The article said that religious liberty "is likely to be in the arsenal of this year's political battles."

While it will likely be a political bat, more political debate about religious liberty is always an education opportunity for goodwill Baptists.

Robert Parham is executive editor of EthicsDaily.com and executive director of its parent organization, the Baptist Center for Ethics. Follow him on Twitter at RobertParham1.

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