Democrats Not Seen as Religion Friendly

Democrats Not Seen as Religion Friendly


An Associated Press headline declares “Poll: Fewer See Dems As Religion-Friendly.”

Democrats’ efforts to improve their image with religious voters after the 2004 presidential election appear to be getting off to a bumpy start.

Fewer people see Democrats as friendly to religion now than felt that way a year ago, according to a poll released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

That number has dropped from 40 percent in August 2004 who thought the Democrats were friendly to religion to 29 percent now.

Associated Press: Poll: Fewer See Dems As Religion-Friendly

This is true. The poll cited does make this finding, but it says other things too. If one wanted to isolate one question from this poll and make a report of it, it could just as easily have been headlined: “Poll: More Americans think Bush Mentions Faith and Prayer Too Much” (Maybe that’s too cumbersome a headline. But I’m new at this.)

Such a report could go on to say “That number has increased from 14 percent in July 2003 who thought Bush mentions faith and prayer too much to 28 percent now.”

Neither the AP article, nor my impromptu attempt, tell the whole story of the poll’s findings. The full report from the Pew Center is entitled “Religion A Strength And Weakness For Both Parties

Is it not possible to value a strict separation of church and state and be ‘religion friendly’? I suppose it’s in the way you express it. John Kerry somehow seemed better at it than Howard Dean, for example. I think the problem lies more in the ongoing ‘Reps=values, Dems=anti-religion’ meme prevalent in our political discourse and perpetuated in the media.

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  • debsay

    I think a big part of it is the constant attack of anything ‘religious’ in public. The constitution says that the Government can’t make a law ‘establishing’ any religion…. it doesn’t say that you can’t ‘mention’ religion in public, it doesn’t say that you have to ‘prohibit’ religion in public…. the ACLU takes it WAY TOO FAR and the average person sees it happen all the time.

  • Callimachus

    Perhaps you could elaborate more on the “ongoing ‘Reps=values, Dems=anti-religion’ meme … perpetuated in the media.” What media is that? Is it more than just Fox News talking heads shows? I am not a religious person at all, but the fierceness of the contempt for religion (I should say, Christianity and Judaism when practiced by people other than Martin Luther King or Jesse Jackson) in the newsrooms where I’ve worked these last 20-some years has made even me blanch. I pity any person of faith who has to work in such an environment. The few that there are, whom I’ve discovered, keep their heads down and say little.

    Is it not possible that the media itself is so far toward the irreligious side of the American spectrum that it distorts the Democrats’ position by identifying it with its own?

  • SilverSeraphim

    I’d say the “anti-religious” stance is not so much a Democratic one as it is a far-left one. I frequent a progressive message board, and I’ve actually seen some people become apologetic about holding religious beliefs, even if it’s not a “mainstream” religion like Christianity. As to Christianity, it seems like most anit-religious feeling is directed specifically at this particular religion. I’ve even found myself doing it, which caused grief between myself and my Christian husband at one point.

    I count myself as a Democrat, and a religious person. And while my particular brand of faith may not be the norm, I see no reason to deny others the public display of their own. I happen to be quite fond of Nativity scenes at Christmas time, myself.

  • Paul Brinkley

    Callimachus, I see this contempt for religion as well in some of my left-leaning friends. I should say, however, that there is some interesting dissonances happening there.

    I have friends who are liberal and atheist. I suspect that in general, if it’s religious, they’d prefer it not appear in a governmental context, period. They profess that your beliefs are yours and precious, and only when you attempt to impose them on others will they oppose with all effort – but meanwhile, there’s this passive-aggressive undercurrent to many things they say. It’s clear that they think you’re wrong, and that implication is oppressive.

    Meanwhile, I have friends who are liberal and spiritual in various ways – including Christian. These friends are all aware of each other. So that sets up interesting dynamics. They all start to temper their hate for all things religious, and try to claim it’s aimed only toward zealots. “I love Christ. It’s His followers I can’t stand.” And all that. But then they forget, and go right back to the broad brush. I think in many cases they genuinely do only hate the hardcases like James Dobson and Judge Roy Moore, and they just project all that hate on 51% of America through plain ol’ laziness. (It’s a common trait. Take any demographic you don’t understand; chances are you’ll equate all of it with the few nutjobs you hear about on the news. It takes significant energy to separate the stuff from the stuff, and we’re all evolved to not do that all the time.)

    Meanwhile (again), these friends will, from time to time, create artistic political pictures, witty political slogans, flawed but glib arguments, and so on. They respond to each other’s creations with “/me stands up and claps”, and “Amen!”, and “preach it!”. Sound familiar? It’s the exact sort of behavior they accuse the Right of doing.

    For some, liberalism has become a religion. Its followers often irritate me more than Christian Bible-thumpers, because the Bible-thumpers know they’re in a religion. With knee-jerk group-thinking liberals, you have to take the extra step of convincing them they’re in a religion before you can even debate them on the same footing as you can the thumpers.

  • Callimachus

    Paul, You’re moving toward an interesting distinction, between proselytizing religions and personal, or insular ones. The irritation I have historically felt at Christians is based on encounters with ignorant street preachers or other aggressive convert-seekers (being able to quote their own Bible to them — in the original Greek — doesn’t even stop them). Yet I interact every day with the Amish who are far more faith-based and “not of this world” than anyone else, and we get along great. I’d defend them to the extremity.

    Just so, I had a lover for many years who was a druidess. The real thing, not the New Age imitation. We had common battles with Christian intruders, but when it comes to living a religion, she was the most spiritual person I know.

    It is certainly true that the Founders said they separated Church and state for the good of both. It may even be the case that they meant that. Certainly history has demonstrated that when religion seeps into politics, it’s the former that suffers most.

    Really, if I were truly anti-religion, I’d want nothing more than to have a state-sponsored Christianity, and have the Bible taught in the schools. European nations have state religions, and they lead the world in atheism. Meanwhile, we ask our schools to teach basic facts of science and geography, and we end up with a nation of people who think the Earth is 6,000 years old and can’t find the U.S. on a map of the world.

  • Joshua

    Of course, who was it that first put forth the idea of church-state separation? You guessed it – none other than Jesus Christ Himself! You know, “Render unto God that which is God’s, and render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s” and all that. In other words, church-state separation in itself amounts to government endorsement of a religious belief.