The Washington Post has an article suggesting that the Republicans don’t have the religious vote in their back pocket. And, in a sense, they never did. A certain segment of Christianity – louder than most and apt to wear their religion on their sleeves – are very much a pillar of GOP electoral success, but the rest of Christians and certainly those with other religions have been more variable in their choices at the ballot box.
But early data suggest that some of the religious vote is up for grabs next year. While exit polls showed that 82 percent of white evangelical Protestants who attend church weekly voted for President Bush in 2004, only 60 percent of the same group said they expected to vote GOP in 2008, according to a Pew Research Center survey released this year. Among weekly-attending white Catholics, the percentage dropped from 61 percent to 38 percent; among weekly-attending white mainline Protestants, from 57 percent to 36 percent.
Pollsters and political scientists say some religious voters who supported Bush now feel discouraged, either by the war in Iraq, or by the rich-poor gap, or because they feel he didn’t go far enough on the hot-button social issues they cared about, such as abortion and gay marriage. And new issues have risen in importance for religious voters that are not seen as GOP priorities, such as the environment.
I don’t think that second paragraph gets stressed in the media narrative nearly enough. There are any number of policy issues where the Republicans seem very much at odds with Biblical teachings, particularly with respect to war and wealth. My recollection is that Jesus spent a whole lot more time talking about money than he did about homosexuality or abortion.
In interviews with several religious voters, haziness is evident. They hold complex and sometimes contradictory views. They have litmus tests, but then make exceptions. They say that only God can judge another person’s soul, and then, in the next breath, explain how that’s just what they’re trying to do themselves.