war on religion
These are anxious times for white evangelicals, according to two new surveys.
At 20 percent of U.S. adults, they are statistically neck-and-neck with the “nones” — people who claim no religious brand. “Nones” now tally up to 19 percent in the 2014 American Values Survey, said Robert Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute, which released the survey Sept. 23.
Evangelicals, said Jones, are on “the losing side of the culture wars, such as gay marriage, and they see that their share (of society) is shrinking and aging, adding to their sense of being embattled.”
“They can no longer say confidently they speak for all people of faith.”
Perhaps for that reason, white evangelicals, more than any other religious group, worry that the government will interfere with their religious liberty.
The survey asked which concerned people more: The government interfering with their ability to “freely practice their religion” or “religious groups trying to pass laws that force their beliefs on others.”
The overall answer was a tie — 46 percent of Americans overall for each viewpoint. But white evangelicals were significantly more worried about government interference (66 percent) than any other group.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney accused Democratic President Barack Obama of launching a “war on religion” in a television ad released on Aug. 9.
“President Obama used his health care plan to declare war on religion, forcing religious institutions to go against their faith,” the ad’s announcer states.
The ad pans to a shot of Romney on his recent visit to Poland saying, "In 1979, a son of Poland, Pope John Paul II, spoke words that would bring down an empire. Be not afraid."
It concludes, “When religious freedom is threatened, who do you want to stand with?”
I’m not a fan of calling things wars that aren’t really wars. As soon as something is labeled a “war”, whether it be the “culture wars” or now the “war on religion,” we severely limit the ways we can move forward and solutions available to us. EJ Dionne in his column today at the Washington Post puts it this way:
Politicized culture wars are debilitating because they almost always require partisans to denigrate the moral legitimacy of their opponents, and sometimes to deny their very humanity. It’s often not enough to defeat a foe. Satisfaction only comes from an adversary’s humiliation.
One other thing about culture wars: One side typically has absolutely no understanding of what the other is trying to say.
There likely was little Sabbath-ing for politicians and journalists this weekend, as the debate over health policy raged across the campaign trail and in the television studios.
In a fiery comment piece in The Los Angeles Times, David Horsey reported that at CPAC, Mitt Romney pledged that he would “reverse every single Obama regulation that attacks our religious liberty and threatens innocent human life in this country.”
Speaking on Face The Nation, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell stated that the contraception controversy is an issue of religious freedom.
Republican Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum laid out his position on the situation very clearly on Meet The Press.
As we ponder historian Newt Gingrich's ever more vigorous denunciations of President Obama's "war on religion," it is worth recalling the first time an American politician charged the political powers that be in the U.S. with seeking to "impose a secular vision" on the country (as Mitt Romney put it the other day).
That would be back at the Creation, in Philadelphia in 1787, when an anti-federalist delegate from Maryland named Luther Martin.
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