Of all the divisions between Democrats and Republicans, the deepening religious divide may be the most important.
Knowing someone’s religion doesn’t necessarily predict which party he supports. But increasingly, knowing how devout that person is does. Devout Americans are abandoning a Democratic Party whose deepest devotion is to Big Government.
According to a new Gallup poll, for the first time a majority of Democrats, 52%, say they never or seldom go to church. Only about one-quarter of self-identified Democrats, 27%, say they attend weekly or more.
This contrasts with 38% of Republicans surveyed, who say they never or seldom go to church, and 40% who go at least weekly.
What’s more, 19% of the Democrats surveyed by Gallup say they have no religious denomination, while just 9% of Republicans are religiously unaffiliated.
These data confirm an ongoing trend of people of faith abandoning the Democratic Party and people of no faith flocking to it.
The Democratic presidential nominee’s share of the atheist vote has increased in each of the last four elections.
George W. Bush beat his two Democratic opponents by lopsided margins among regular churchgoers. And even as Barack Obama beat John McCain by seven percentage points in 2008, he lost among those who attend church weekly or more frequently by eight points, 55% to 43%. Even more revealing, Obama beat McCain by 37 points among voters who never attend church.
The data underscore how much difficulty Democrats have had in convincing voters that they stand for religious values.
But it’s not for lack of trying. Republicans are often derided in the media for wearing religion on their sleeves. But some Democrats talk about their faith as much as Republicans do. Obama trumpets his faith at nearly every opportunity, and Big Media applauds.
But most voters suspect that even though many on the Left talk about their faith as the source of their public policy positions, their true loyalty does not lie with the reliable standards of right and wrong laid out in most religions.
Democratic policies increasingly make that party a hostile environment for people of faith. Religious Americans look at the modern Democratic Party and see that its most powerful interests are a Hollywood culture that mocks Christians and embraces the gay-rights and abortion lobbies.
Whenever a display of the 10 Commandments is ruled unconstitutional, there’s almost always a left-wing, Democrat-appointed judge behind it. Whenever a crèche is removed from public property, it’s usually a liberal politician or judge who made it happen.
The President hasn’t helped his party by denying that America is a “Christian nation.” He often incorrectly refers to the Middle East as the “Muslim world.” But he refuses to acknowledge the Judeo-Christian foundation of the U.S.
Sadly, Democrats who do have strong faith—most notably black Americans—are unwittingly empowering a party whose elites are intent on stripping away our Judeo-Christian heritage.
Democrats often proclaim that the most important moral issues have to do with the federal budget. Recently, “religious Left” leader Jim Wallis launched a “What would Jesus cut?” campaign and labeled the Republican Party’s proposed budget cuts “unbiblical.”
Jesus commanded that we help “the least of these,” which clearly includes the economically disadvantaged.
But the left-wing view is that government is the preferred provider for the poor. Liberals demonize conservatives who believe that while government does have an obligation to the poor, it also has other moral obligations to the taxpayers, and to the future generations we are saddling with debt.
What’s more, conservatives believe that government is not the only entity with an obligation to help the poor. Nonprofits, churches, families and individuals also must help, and they are often better at doing so. This belief helps explain why political conservatives and people of deep faith are more likely to donate their time and money to assist the poor.
The two parties don’t disagree on the scriptural obligation to help the poor, only on where that help should come from. For example: The Left’s love of government action over private charity can be seen in calls to raise taxes and to put caps on the tax deduction for charitable giving. This approach assumes that help from the government is superior to help from the community.
Of course, the materially poor aren’t the only ones included among “the least of these.” When it comes to another group of marginalized persons—the unborn—the two parties differ much more dramatically.
Conservatives believe that unborn human life should be protected by the law and welcomed into the world. But the Left believes unborn babies aren’t human persons, have no rights, and thus can be destroyed at a whim. They further believe that abortion is such a societal “good” that all citizens must pay for it.
That’s a pretty fundamental difference. And the prevailing Democratic view on abortion is one that most devout believers simply cannot abide. No wonder numerous polls show that religious Americans are more likely to be pro-life.
It wasn’t long ago that a churchgoer could strike up a conversation with the person next to him in the pew and have no clue about that person’s political affiliation. That’s no longer true.
The faithful will continue to abandon the Democratic Party so long as its deepest devotion is to the false gospel of Big Government.