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Liberal on Religion = Liberal on Politics?

February 26, 2016

Or conservative on religion = conservative on politics? Pew study shows high correlation.

It’s probably not surprising to most observers… the larger and particularly conservative religious groups in the United States also lean very heavily Republican, led by Mormons at 70%.  After a 6 or 7 percentage point gap, you find the large Southern Baptist Convention and Church of the Nazarene.  Then a few other large theologically conservative denominations.

On the other side of mid-point, Catholics are rated as 7% more Democrat-aligned.   Not surprising that Unitarian Universalists, the most liberal Protestant denomination by some distance, the Pew survey finds at 84% Democratic… exceeded only by two historically black denominations at 87% and 92%.

What’s inside these numbers? (The short article and interesting chart are worth taking a quick look at.)  Probably some direct connection – theologically conservative views lead to socially or economically conservative ones or vice-versa.  But perhaps more significantly, that regional trends and others  such as race and racial experiences play in heavily. And what about education?

I have no data at hand, but imagine what type of “higher education” (college or beyond) one has counts more than merely having a college education.  For example, a whole lot of Mormons have degrees but quite often from Brigham Young University.  And a good percentage of degrees for Evangelicals are from private, theologically conservative Christian colleges and universities.  Think Liberty, Bob Jones, Wheaton, Biola, etc.  And beyond these more-known schools there are hundreds of smaller ones.  The fact that Wheaton (a sort of mid-point, potential bellwether school) may yet be in the midst of a “boundaries” crisis re. Christian/Muslim faith could be an indication of something.

That “something” might be that a largely-unnoticed movement, especially among younger Evangelicals has been significant.  While this may have been stimulated initially by social issues, it is also impacting broader religious beliefs and conservative institutions.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 26, 2016 3:00 pm

    Great post, Howie. It’s really got me thinking. Take a look at Relevant Magazine (it’s online), and tell me what you make of it. Read the comments. You can’t tell anything about the commenters’ edumacation, of course, but they do speak to how the younger members of the Israel of God are thinking today. Or not thinking. One thing strikes me. The readers of this non-conservative magazine don’t know their Bibles.

    • February 27, 2016 3:45 pm

      Thanks for the comment! I’d be interested in what kind of thinking my article led to, if you’d not mind sharing.

      As to Relevant Magazine, thanks for the lead. I may have encountered it but not read any of it before. Didn’t have much time to now, but wanted to read a bit and answer quickly lest I forget and life “intervenes”. I read the Donald Miller article (interesting, but didn’t see that it had comments). Then the one on politics in the Bible and read the comments. It’s not enough to state any kind of informed opinion. However, I’m not sure how you mean “non-conservative” mag. With this quick glance, I’m thinking it is only “non-conservative” in a general, but not theological sense. At least it seems closer to traditional Xn orthodoxy than to the different paradigm of “liberalism”, or “progressive” theology. Also, progressive Xn groups are not as likely to be starting online or print publications of this nature. Tho I’m part of the progressive “line” or element within mixed churches, I do often wonder if we’re largely “asleep” to much of culture and activism (aside from a few important “social justice” issues and direct action in serving the poor and needy, which my own church is quite strong on, and the UCC more broadly seems to be).

      Anyway, happy to interact further if you have more specific comments or questions… the mag does look like something interesting to explore.

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