Prayer and Political Party December 10, 2008

Prayer and Political Party

Pop quiz: If you pray several times a day, where on the political spectrum would you lie?

The easy answer: Strong Republican.

The surprising answer: Strong Democrat.

In fact, the more religious you are, the more likely you are to be at the far ends of the spectrum — on both sides:

The group containing the most people who never pray? Independents.

What do you make of it all?

The background behind how this image and data were generated can be found here.

Also, I thought the link for the original post was strangely appropriate.

(via The Daily Dish)

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  • Richard Wade

    What do you make of it all?

    We haven’t got a prayer.

  • Beijingrrl

    Makes complete sense to me. Independents do not put their “faith” in a party, but choose to examine the current candidate and issues on their own merits. I’m not surprised that those who vote based on what a party tells them to do (I’m assuming “strong” indicates they always vote the party line) also seek the nod from a higher power to tell them how to live their lives.

  • Polly

    I no longer vote the straight Republican ticket and my vote is up for grabs. I consider myself independent, though still registered as a Republican.

    This makes perfect sense except that I would expect a lot more light blue (never pray) from independents.

  • Gabriel G.

    Frankly, I’m not surprised. To be at either end, you have to be an extremist in your political views. If you’re an extremist when it comes to politics, it makes sense for you to be an extremist in other things too. So really, I’m not surprised that there are really religious people on either end.

    As for the independent thing, what Beijingrrl said makes sense. Most independents are independent of party affiliations because they choose to examine the evidence before choosing a position. It doesn’t take much of a leap to apply the same rational to religion.

  • Becky

    I’m shocked by the results, and all, I didn’t see the other commenters’ points, but I do now. I agree with Polly though, the amount of light blue is a bit sad. I know some christians who don’t pray.

  • Jasen777

    It’s what I would expected. You have to remember all of the African-American Christians who are strong Democrats.

  • Eric

    I’d say that I lean Democrat. Not because I think Republicans are a decent option, but because I am more liberal than the Dems.

  • N

    That is interesting.

    When I was a fundamentalist christian, I was a far right Republican. Now, as an atheist, I have become Libertarian. Still leaning to the right regarding small government and fiscal issues, but moving to the left regarding civil liberties and social issues.

    A very close friend of mine, who was always far left Democrat, recently turned from his Catholic upbringing and is now atheist. He has since moved to the center also (though he is still way farther left than I).

    It is interesting to me that this is a common trend.

  • benjdm

    I can’t believe that many of my fellow human beings pray.

  • Interesting. I’d consider myself a Strong Democrat and I’m about as big an atheist as you can be.

    I’m assuming it has something to do with holding dogmatic beliefs that aren’t so much based in reality.

    I guess my own experience is the exception to that hypothesis because I actually work in Democratic politics and my loyalty to the party is more loyalty to my own efforts than loyalty to an unbending ideology.

  • Miko

    I’d be even more interested in seeing what they’re praying for. It kind of makes sense if their prayers are of a “Dear God, Here’s What I Want You To Do For Me Now” nature, since anyone believing that magic is going to benefit them could as easily attribute it to a government as to a god. On the other hand, it also makes sense if their prayers are more of the “I Am Unworthy” self-deprecating nature, since anyone who thinks they need constant help and surveillance by a god could easily be expected to want the same thing from a government.

    As for the independents, it’s even more nebulous, as that label is used by people ranging from populists to libertarians to Demopublicans who think “independent” sounds chic. I’d expect a stronger effect size if this group was broken up into distinct political identities. In particular, I’d expect “never pray” to be much more prevalent among the libertarians and almost nonexistent among the populists.

  • As an atheist independent – I’m a consensualist so neither party is even remotely where I’m at, politically – I find it very easy to believe that Democrats are basically as religious as Republicans. Indeed, this is what virtually all my liberal Democrat friends tell me – that not all religious people are like those crazy Republicans. 😉

  • valhar2000

    What Beijingrrl said. It’s no surprise that strong allegiance to a religious group correlates with strong allegiance to a political group.

    In this case, the causation seems plausible, and, what do you know, the corresponding correlation is right there!

  • Josh Spinks

    This doesn’t actually tell us that atheists are more likely to be independent. It could be that that atheists make up the light blues on the extremes, and inactive, but still officially religious folks make up the center light blue.

    I’m not convinced being independent is so reasonable either. When you only have two viable parties, a person with strong political convictions is likely to find that one of them is always preferable to the other, even if not ideal.

    I also don’t think the idea of voting for individual candidates makes much sense. In my opinion, you should be voting based on party, because representatives will tend to vote with their party. The primaries are the place to vote for individuals who share your values; in the elections, I would say vote straight ticket unless some candidate is really too awful to vote for.

  • Spurs Fan

    Oddly enough, I was very liberal when I was an Evangelical, but since becoming a Skeptic, am now just pretty liberal. Example: I was still a Christian in 2001 and opposed the invasion of Afghanistan, based on the words of Christ which seemed to promote all justice being done by God, not by humans (love your enemies-even Al-Qaeda and the Taliban). Now, I can say that were I an Atheist in 2001, I would have supported the invasion (even if I opposed certain aspects of it). The War in Iraq, I opposed as both a believer and a heathen!

    So, I find these results to be explanatory at least for me. However, we’re overgeneralizing a bit if we think Liberal=Democrat or Conservative=Republican all of the time.