Go Figure

A week ago, SurveyUSA showed Clinton winning regular worship attenders in Texas and Obama winning those who attend little or not at all. Now the same pollster shows their positions reversed. In both cases by healthy margins. So the more Texans see of the two candidates, the more the pious like Barack and the more the impious like Hillary?

Tejanos

There’s evidence that Obama is gaining some ground among Hispanics in Texas. A few days ago, CNN’s polling director Keating Holland, commenting on a survey showing a dead heat in Texas, said he thought Clinton might well receive two-thirds of the Hispanic vote there. Yesterday’s SurveyUSA poll, showing Obama up by four points, had him trailing Clinton by only 13 points, 39 to 52. That was a smaller margin than among whites, who went for Clinton 56 percent to 39 percent.

Canvasing in DC

From Nikita Stewart’s nice profile of Huckabee staffer Brian Summers in today’s WaPo:”I went to churches. I went to Bible study groups. I didn’t go in selling the Republican Party. I came in and sold a candidate,” said Summers, who targeted wards 7 and 8 in Southeast Washington, where he hoped to strike a chord with black Republicans who are Christians and who he thought could identify with Huckabee, an ordained Southern Baptist minister. It worked.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2008 Religion News Service SMU agrees to house Bush library (RNS) Southern Methodist University has formally agreed to house the George W. Bush presidential library, museum and public policy institute on its Dallas campus, despite objections from liberal United Methodists. Trustees at the United Methodist-related university voted unanimously to green light an agreement with the Bush Presidential Library Foundation on Feb. 22. In a letter to SMU President R. Gerald Turner, Bush said, “I look forward to the day when both the general public and scholars come and explore the important and challenging issues our nation has faced during my presidency.” Bush and his wife, Laura Bush, an SMU graduate, are United Methodists.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2008 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Americans who aren’t part of a religious organization or who identify as an atheist or an agnostic represent the biggest change among U.S. religious groups, according to a study released Monday (Feb. 25) by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. The U.S. Religious Landscape Survey estimates that about 16 percent of America’s 225 million adults are unaffiliated with a religion. When “childhood religion” is compared against “current religion,” the unaffiliated show a net increase of 8.8 percentage points, compared to a 7.5 point loss among Catholics, for example, or a 2.6 percent loss among Protestants.

SIDEBAR: Protestants close to losing majority status

c. 2008 Religion News Service (UNDATED) The United States is firmly 78 percent Christian but barely 51 percent Protestant, according to a survey released Monday (Feb. 25). The findings, part of the sweeping U.S. Religious Landscape Survey produced by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, reaffirm a decades-long decline toward minority status for the family of churches that long steered American politics and culture. “We’re a society that over the long-term _ meaning over the last several decades or the last century _ (has) begun to embrace not just religious diversity but appreciate religious diversity,” said Mark Chaves, a sociologist of religion at Duke Divinity School.

SIDEBAR: Protestants close to losing majority status

c. 2008 Religion News Service (UNDATED) A new detailed study of American religion reveals not just a diversity of faiths, but also a range of racial and ethnic membership within those faiths. Of the country’s estimated 1.6 million adult Buddhists, for example, only one-third are Asian _ despite the religion’s roots in Asia _ while a slim majority (53 percent) are white. Among Catholics, 29 percent are Hispanic _ the largest proportion in any faith _ while Muslims are the most ethnically diverse group, spread among whites, blacks and Asians. Jehovah’s Witnesses, meanwhile, are about half white, a quarter black and almost a quarter Hispanic.

SIDEBAR: Protestants close to losing majority status

c. 2008 Religion News Service (UNDATED) If you’re Buddhist in the United States, you’re most likely a white convert who lives in the American West. If you’re a Jehovah’s Witness, you’re likely to be a white Southerner, but almost half of your fellow believers are either African-American or Hispanic. And if you’re a Midwesterner, you’re living in the region that best reflects the religious diversity of America. A new study of more than 35,000 adult Americans by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life captures the depth and breadth of religious America _ 78.4 percent Christian, 4.7 percent members of other faiths and 16.1 percent unaffiliated.

SIDEBAR: Catholics lose more faithful than any other group

c. 2008 Religion News Service (UNDATED) In the marketplace of American faith, Catholicism is the big loser. Catholics have lost more members to other faiths, or to no faith at all, than any other U.S. religion, according to the new survey released by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. The survey, based on interviews with 35,000 U.S. adults, found that 31 percent of Americans were raised Catholic, but only 24 percent still identify as Catholic. Perhaps more worrisome for church leaders, while 2.6 percent of Americans converted to Catholicism, four times as many _ 10.1 percent _ of cradle Catholics have left for another faith or no faith at all.

SIDEBAR: Catholics lose more faithful than any other group

c. 2008 Religion News Service (UNDATED) In a study that highlights the fluidity of religious affiliation in America today, Hindus stand out as the group with the most stable religious identity, while Buddhists struggle hardest to pass the faith from one generation to the next. Ninety percent of Hindus marry within their own faith, and eight-in-ten Hindus who were raised Hindu remain so as adults, according to the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, released Monday (Feb. 25) by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. In contrast, only 45 percent of Buddhists are married to another Buddhist, and only half of Buddhists who were raised in the faith remain Buddhists as adults.

Post’s Op-Ed Section Delves Into Religion, Politics

Sunday’s Washington Post had a package of stories on faith and politics that looked at it from the left and the right, and from the perspective of Hispanics to potentially hell-bound voters. Amy Sullivan, nation editor at Time magazine, wrote about being a liberal evangelical – a non-non sequitur, she says. Beliefnet.com’s Washington editor David Kuo suggested that GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee could become the next kingmaker of the new religious right. Samuel Rodriguez Jr., president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, wrote about Hispanic voters who are not in the pocket of either the Christian left or the Christian right. And Joe Feuerherd, who covered the U.S. Catholic bishops and the 2004 election for National Catholic Reporter, wrote about whether voting for Sen. Barack Obama might be putting his soul at risk – at least, according to Catholic leaders.

In Gay Debate, Church Opts For No Family Photos in Directory

A Fort Worth, Texas, church has decided not to feature family portraits in its 125th anniversary church directory to attempt to end a debate over whether gay members’ photos could be included. Broadway Baptist Church voted 294-182 Sunday, approving a recommendation by the church’s board of deacons, The Dallas Morning News reported. “This has been a difficult decision for our congregation,” said Kathy Madeja, deacon chair. The matter had divided the congregation and prompted some to call for the ouster of its pastor, Brett Younger. The board urged “remediation and reconciliation” for the congregation before deciding about his future.

The Vatican on the Oscars

In the latest sign that the official Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano has become more lively and wide-ranging under its new editor, Giovanni Maria Vian, Tuesday’s edition carries a reflection on last night’s Academy Awards. “Hollywood has been struck this year by gloomy films, soaked in violence and above all lacking in hope,” writes Gaetano Vallini, whose Exhibit A is the Best Picture winner, No Country for Old Men. Yet Vallini acknowledges that this year’s nominees also included films that “recount the beauty of life,” particularly The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and Juno.

Evangelical Democrats!?

Amy Sullivan dispels the myth that all evangelicals aren’t liberals in her column for the Washington Post. Sullivan delves into why Republican have held a monopoly on the faithful and how this is beginning to change.

Return of the Romneys

Mitt Romney’s son, Josh, told the Desert Morning News today that he is considering running for Congress. More interesting is his belief that Mormonism cost his father a win in Iowa. Josh Romney said “When it’s religion, you definitely take it personally. It’s highly offensive, but I think that the vast majority of people we saw were very accepting. They said, ‘Your dad shares our values and we don’t care about his religion.”