When it comes to religion, a new survey from the Pew Research Center finds that 63% of Americans want it out of politics. 75% don’t want church leaders endorsing candidates, despite Donald Trump pretending to repeal the Johnson Amendment. And a 37% plurality of American adults believe religion has too much influence in politics.
It’s an utter rejection of the way the Republican Party has treated religion, making sure conservative Christian theology goes hand-in-hand with their policies.
The numbers may come as a shock to anyone who has followed politics for a while, since even Democratic presidential candidates have shoved religious rhetoric into their politics, if not used it as an inspiration for their ideas. (Just listen to Cory Booker or Pete Buttigieg on the campaign trail to get a sense of that.) But the results also show there’s an opening for Democrats who pledge to keep their faith completely separate from their policy decisions — or, dare I say it, those who openly cater to Secular Americans.
The survey also found that most Americans believe religion does more good than harm in society, but we’re only talking about a mere 55%. 20% correctly say it does more harm than good while 24% said it makes no difference at all. (Those 24% of people clearly don’t pay attention to what’s happening in the world.)
Among atheists, it’s obviously even more skewed. 70% of us say religion does more harm than good while 17% say it’s irrelevant. (Someone try explaining to me why 13% of atheists believe religion is a force for good.)
Among Democrats, though, only 44% say religion in a positive force in society:
So again, I ask: If this is the way Democrats feel, why are our politicians so afraid of embracing a slightly more secular perspective? Why aren’t they doing more to promote church/state separation? Why aren’t they hiring Secular Outreach Directors? Why aren’t they pledging not to turn the White House into a makeshift church the way the Religious Right has done? There’s no reason to think they’re going to alienate moderates by simply not mentioning faith while campaigning, and they’re going to be dismissed by conservatives no matter what they do. To rephrase one of Buttigieg’s lines, they’re going to call Democrats “godless” no matter what they do, so why not just do the right thing?
It’s not like I’m asking Democrats to be hostile to faith. That’s not the job of elected officials, either. But by paying it lip service the way so many elected Democrats have done, what have they gotten in return? Pew says that 55% of evangelicals still think Democrats are “unfriendly” toward religion. Those are people you’re never going to win over. Don’t bother. Meanwhile 23% of people who don’t belong to any organized religion think Democrats are too friendly to faith. Those are voters Democrats need to focus on and get to the polls.
(Featured image via Shutterstock)