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Religion and U.S. Politics America: a religious nation * 90% believe in God [vs. 22% in U.K., 4% in FR] * But 25% attend church weekly (40% claim to  ) * Is our religiosity “a mile wide and an inch deep?” Smith: “ Moral Therapeutic Deism ”

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Religion and U.S. Politics


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America: a religious nation

* 90% believe in God [vs. 22% in U.K., 4% in FR]

* But 25% attend church weekly (40% claim to )

* Is our religiosity “a mile wide and an inch deep?”

Smith: “MoralTherapeuticDeism”

↓ ↓ ↓ [be good] [feel good] [God: help me if RULES! self help! I get in trouble!]


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6 Major Religious “Traditions”

% PopReligious / Political “Distinctives”…

Evangelical Prot. 25% “evangelism”; more conservative

Mainline Prot. 20 “social justice”;more moderate

Catholics 25+ split: traditional/centrist/liberal

“Secular” 15+ non-religious group; more liberal

Jewish <2 very liberal; pro-Israel policies

Black Protestant 10 ECON liberal, moral conservative 


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The “12 Tribes” of U.S. Politics

on the LEFT side…

Percent vote for BUSH =

Black Prot Muslim/Jewish Secular Relig. Left 17% 23% 26% 30%


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The “12 Tribes” of U.S. Politics

in the MIDDLE…

Percent vote for BUSH =

“Spiritual but Latinos Convertible White Bread not religious” Catholics Protestants 37% 45% 55% 58%


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The “12 Tribes” of U.S. Politics

on the RIGHT side…

Percent vote for BUSH =

Moderate Evang. Heartland Culture Religious Right Warriors 64% 72% 88%


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The “God Gap” in Voting

by tradition, AND by religious attendance

…if HIGH (weekly or more than weekly) attendance, you will tend to vote REPUBLICAN by a 2:1 margin

…on the flip side, those who NEVER attend any kind of religious services vote for DEMOCRATS by 2:1


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  • “12 Tribes”: GROUP QUESTIONS…

  • What do you say are the most interesting[or important] findings from this study?

  • Where are you? Was it easy or hard to “fit”?

  • How did religion impact 2008 presidential race?


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  • How did religion impact 2008?

  • Obama: mass emails claimed he’s a Muslim?[12% of U.S. population still believed it Nov. 4]

  • Republican nomination: Mitt Romney (Mormon) and Mike Huckabee (Southern Baptist minister)

  • Obama’s pastor: Reverend Jeremiah Wright and controversial sermons and statements…

  • * Conclusion: most voters prioritized the ECONOMY or the WAR when asked their “Most Important Issue”!!


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  • How did religion impact 2008?

  • CONCLUSIONS:

  • These issues were not decisive in these contests – those who believed Obama rumors weren’t likelyto vote for him anyway; many did not vote at all. Romney was weakened a bit by Mormon issue.

  • OBAMA made slight gains among specific religious groups, like Latino Catholics & young evangelicals

  • the ECONOMY trumped religion as issue #1 in ‘08


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  • Web EX

  • [online exercise]

  • …exploring religion in the U.S.

  • http://www.thearda.com/

  • U.S. Congregational Membership reports [county / state]

  • Quick Stats – U.S. Denominations [intro / distribution / over time]

  • If you have time, feel free to look around the site and use other tools


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