Religion and Politics in the US

Welcome to RelPol, a student peer reviewed online magazine. This magazine is part of the assessment for the module "In God We Trust" @ the University of Hull.

Religion is losing its influence in American politics… but America doesn’t like it.

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The majority of people in the U.S. believe religion losing its influence in politics is a bad thing. However, 72% of Americans argue religion is losing its influence in American life today and only 22% believe religion is increasing its influence in life. 25% of this group see religion in society as a negative whereas 53% of this group say there should be more religious talk and regard religion positively. Showing support and a growing influence for religion in politics.

Research by Gallup shows that people who attend church and hold religious views are more likely to think being religious is better for society. However, even one in three people who do not hold religious views and don’t attend church still believe American society would benefit if more people were religious.

Why are 72% of people saying religion is losing influence in politics? Americans believe that Politicians aren’t talking enough about faith. In their speeches they only seem to mention God however not mentioning Jesus and Christian as much. This is so they can appeal to the masses and different religious groups. Even atheists say they still believe in God or a universal spirit. Americans think it is important for Politicians to have strong faith and more people think they should talk more about their faith to the public.

During George W. Bush’s period the percentage of Americans saying religion should stay out of politics rose, while the people saying religion should express their views dropped. This is the complete opposite today as research shows from Pew nearly half of Americans (49%) argues religious houses should express their views on day-to-day social and political questions.

Evangelicals argue it is hard for them to be religious in America as they are discriminated against and the country is more hostile towards them. In an analysis from the Washington Post it states White Evangelicals are likely to say they are discriminated against more than black people. However, Protestants are actually the biggest religious group in the U.S. and white Evangelicals are the largest Protestant group.

Many believe another reason why Religion is losing its influence in America is because the Obama administration is unfriendly towards religion. In 2009 17% of Americans believed this, in contrast to 29% in 2014. The amount of people in America who believe Obama to be unfriendly towards religion has almost doubled since he first became President. Author David Barton calls Obama “America’s most Biblically hostile U.S. President” .It is mainly Republican Christians and Evangelicals who believe this and want churches to be more involved in politics. However, Christopher B. Chapp states in Religious Rhetoric and American Politics, “The Demographic candidate, Barack Obama, actually won the vote among those attending church “monthly”” and he said “voters gave comparatively little weight to religious or moral situations”. Therefore, it is unlikely Obama’s fault for religion losing its influence in American politics.

Adam Lee from the guardian.com argues America is becoming less Christian because the young people are less religious. Young people are being driven away by the old fashioned view that gay marriage is wrong and men should be with women. The Church is getting too involved in current social and political issues. If this trend continues, religious groups will become smaller and America could become a less Christian country. However, the total extinction of religion in politics cannot be predicted and would take hundreds of years to happen.

Meanwhile, religiously unaffiliated groups have always thought religion should stay out of politics. According to Pew Research from 2012 2.4% of American adults say they are atheists when asked about their religious identity, up from 1.6% in 2007.Unaffiliated groups are increasing in numbers which is why politicians are keeping out their own faiths in their speeches so they can influence everyone rather than a specific group.

Also, Norman Lear in Huffington Post argues “Politics and Religion in American life do not mix”. He argues that through the media, you are told if you are a good or bad Christian depending on your political views and it is incorrect. Therefore, your political view should not be determined by your religious belief.

In summary, all these reasons lead to religion losing its influence in politics. However, research from Pew has shown the upcoming presidential election in 2016 will probably put religion back into politics as 72% is a large majority of the population and they want religion to have more influence in politics. Although, this generation would prefer religion to be involved in politics, the next generation and generations to come may not have the same view which could potentially push religion out of political issues.

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This entry was posted on December 3, 2014 by in Uncategorized, Vol 2, 2014/15.
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