The Common Good

The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer

Source: CNN
Date: February 26, 2008

BLITZER: They've dominated Republican politics for more than a decade but that may be coming to an end. There are some surprising new trends among evangelical Christians and religion in general that could impact potentially in a major way on the presidential race and those to come. Let's go to Brian Todd. He's taking a much closer look at what we're seeing.

What is going on, Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, a new survey shows Americans are moving around quite a lot on their religious affiliations. That's presenting new political challenges for both parties. The Republicans may not be able to look quite the same at their evangelical base again.


TODD: The power of the evangelical moment. A traditional stable of the Republican Party base but that could be changing. A new survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life shows while the ranks of evangelicals are growing and remain strong, even out numbering Catholics now, they may be splintering politically.

JOHN GREEN, PEW FORUM ON RELIGION AND PUBLIC LIFE: Evangelicals may not be as united politically as they were in the past because of all the new people that have been joining their churches that have different perspectives.

TODD: Jim Wallis, a left-leaning evangelical author, says the new ranks of evangelicals have broader political priorities.

JIM WALLIS, "THE GREAT AWAKENING": Young evangelicals think that Jesus probably cares more about those 30,000 children who died today because of utterly preventable poverty and disease than he would about gay marriage amendments in Ohio. That's the change in the agenda.

TODD: Other observers believe the evangelical movement's anti- abortion, anti-gay marriage base is intact and still influential in the GOP, but is increasingly looking over its shoulder.

DAVID BRODY, CHRISTIAN BROADCASTING NETWORK: There is a concern, no doubt, within the old guard so to speak, that some of these other issues are taking the place of some of these cultural war attitudes. TODD: Another striking part of the Pew survey, more than a quarter of American adults say they've left the faith of their childhood in favor of sect or no religion at all. Sixteen percent say they're not affiliated with any faith, a larger percentage than in any time in recent memory. Analysts say that could also change America's political landscape.

DIANA BUTLER BASS, "CHRISTIANITY FOR THE REST OF US": In several election cycles now, we have seen that Democrats attract secular voters and nonaffiliated voters. If that percentage of the American population is increasing, one would expect that that would translate into a new core constituency of secular or non-affiliated spiritual but not religious people for the Democrats.