The legal battle over the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act became, for evangelicals such as U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, shown here at a 2012 rally, a test of religious liberty. RNS Photo by Chris Lisee

Embattled evangelicals: ‘War on Religion’ is aimed at us

(RNS) These are anxious times for white evangelicals according to two new surveys.

At 20 percent of U.S. adults, they are statistically neck-and-neck with the “nones” -- people who claim no religious brand. "Nones" now tally up to 19 percent in the 2014 American Values Survey, released today (Sept. 23) by the Public Religion Research Institute.

Concerns about Religion in Society graphic courtesy of Tim Duffy, Public Religion Research Institute.

Concerns about Religion in Society graphic courtesy of Tim Duffy, Public Religion Research Institute.

Evangelicals, said Jones, "are on the losing side of the culture wars such as gay marriage. And they see that their share (of society) is shrinking and aging, adding to their sense of being embattled,” said Robert P. Jones, CEO of PRRI.

“They can no longer say confidently they speak for all people of faith,” said Jones.

No other religious group is more worried than white evangelicals that the government will interfere with their religious liberty.

According to PRRI, 46 percent of Americans overall -- including 66 percent of white evangelicals -- say they are more concerned about “the government interfering with the ability of people to freely practice their religion.”

Meanwhile, 46 percent overall say they’re more concerned with “religious groups trying to pass laws that force their beliefs on others.” That includes 63% of “nones” and 51% of Catholics.

The Pew Research Center’s newest survey, released Monday, asked people about which groups faced “significant discrimination” in American society.

On a list of eight groups, gays and lesbians led with 65 percent of all surveyed saying this group was under the gun. Atheists were cited next at 59 percent. But, only 31 percent overall considered white evangelicals to be victims of "significant discrimination."

To many evangelicals, such as U.S. Rep Michele Bachmann, shown here at a 2012 rally, the legal battle over the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act was a test of religious liberty. RNS photo by Chris Lisee

Yet, among themselves, 50 percent of white evangelicals see themselves as victims. That’s an unrivaled 19 percentage-point gap in social perception.

“This is directly related to the current political climate, with all the voices of Republicans in the 2012 presidential campaign claiming there’s a ‘war on religion’,” said David Campbell, professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame.

"It fits a historical narrative of feeling under attack and, to a certain extent, this is part of how white evangelicals thrive,” said Campbell.

About one in three white evangelicals say it has become more difficult to be a person of their faith in the U.S. today, according to the Pew survey. And about the same number say they think of themselves as a religious minority because of their beliefs. No other group comes close to this sense of unease.

But white evangelicals are not alone in America’s gloomy mood. The PRRI American Values Survey is subtitled “Worries about Economic Inequality and Insecurity."

More Difficult to Be Religious in the U.S.? graphic courtesy of Pew Research Center.

More Difficult to Be Religious in the U.S.? graphic courtesy of Pew Research Center.

Key findings include

  • Unchanged politics: Just as they did in 2012, white Protestants overwhelmingly say they expect to vote Republican while most black Protestants, white and Hispanic Catholics, Jews and people who don’t identify with any denomination say they’ll vote for Democrats.
  •  Weak tea: The Tea Party is down to 7 percent of Americans, down from 11 percent 2010. It remains centered in the religious right (47 percent). “But we still see them having significant difference with the Republican Party on issues they are strong about such as immigration,” said Jones.
  •  Economic insecurity: 72 percent overall believe the economy is still in a recession today. Six-in-10 Americans report being in only fair financial shape (37 percent) or poor financial shape (20 percent). Jones said, “Economic insecurity remains highly stratified by race, with nearly 6-in-10 black Americans living in households with high or moderate levels of economic insecurity.”
  • More hunger. Jones was particularly alarmed that “36 percent say they or someone in their family has reduced meals or cut back on food to save money over the course of the last year. That’s a pretty serious economic hardship."
  • Dreams diminished: 42 percent say “the American dream -- that if you work hard, you’ll get ahead -- still holds true today.” Black Americans are the most pessimistic: Only 31 percent say it still holds true.
  • Unequal justice: 84 percent of blacks, 60 percent of Hispanics and 51 percent of non-Hispanic white Americans say minorities do not receive the same treatment as white Americans in the criminal justice system.

An unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, was killed in Ferguson, Mo., August 9, during the final week the PRRI survey was being conducted (July 21-Aug. 15). Jones said that turing the last week or research, as demonstrations in Ferguson lead nightly news nationwide, a higher percentage of African Americans and other minorities said they see unequal justice.

The PRRI telephone survey of 4,507 U.S. adults was conducted in English and Spanish. The margin of error is plus or minus 1.8 percentage points.


  1. That’s a laugh. The evangelicals have been crowing for decades about the “culture war” they are waging. Now that they may be losing on some issues, they want to cry foul? They remind me of the Southerners who still refer to the “War of Northern Aggression” even though the first shot was actually fired by the Confederacy. (Actually, I’m sure many of them ARE those same Southerners).

    If there is war, it is a war of the evangelicals’ own making. Some of them even metaphorically describe their obsessive over-breeding as producing quivers full of arrows to fire against God’s enemies. Talk about a warlike people!

  2. Seriously?! These people have political power far in excess of their sheer numbers (which the article says is 20% of the country). These people are the majority in the House of Representatives, and they dominate governors’ chairs and legislatures around the country. They make up close to half of the Senate.

    Please, explain to me on what rational, objective basis any of these folks can view themselves as downtrodden and persecuted? They whine and cry about things like gay marriage, but cannot point to exactly how or why a couple of gays marrying somewhere directly harms them. The cold fact is that it doesn’t. Allowing gays to marry if they wish to, doesn’t mean evangelicals themselves will be forced into gay marriages against their will (even if they seem to think this is going to happen, or worse, already is). These cultural changes they decry are not directly affecting them in the slightest way. They are, themselves, free not to enter into gay marriages (again, to use the same example).

    But they don’t accept this reality. They refuse to.

    Look, I get what’s going on here. The desire to be persecuted for believing in their Jesus is part and parcel of their religion’s psychopathology. They want to be martyrs for Christ. But they aren’t, quite obviously (especially given their disproportionate political power). So what they’re forced to do is invent persecution that doesn’t actually exist. That’s a recipe for delusion. And now that they’ve deluded themselves, they’re inflicting their delusion on everyone else.

    I for one am nowhere near stupid enough to buy into it. If evangelicals don’t like what’s happening in the country, that’s fine. They don’t have to like it! But weeping, wailing, screeching, and (wrongly) claiming they’re being “persecuted” because of them, is just NOT something they’re entitled to do. They need to grow up already, stop with the juvenile antics, and get over their paranoiac delusions.

  3. For once, the evangelicals are right, but they neglect to note that those of us who are reacting to them in what they consider a fight are simply defending ourselves against their invasions against our right. Freedom of religion includes the right to be free of religion.

    Freedom of religion, included by the Framers of our Constitution in the very first clause of the very First Amendment, was as original as the democracy that Constitution supposedly organized and protected. That Constitution, the Declaration of Independence that preceded it, and the Revolution against the royal domination of England over the Thirteen Colonies the English had stolen from the natives who lived here before their arrival–all the way to the Pacific Ocean–organized this country free of religion as any requirement.

    Evangelicals like Michelle Bachmann and any other complainants, just do not know their history. That, or they are being plainly dishonest in their wild claims that this nation was founded on any Judaeo-Christian model. Democracy and our Bill of Rights run counter to that claim.

    Sadly, the original Constitution did follow old and inhumane Judaeo-Christian traditions by protecting slavery of human beings, by adding insult to that injury by counting them as three-fifths of a person so the owners of those slaves, mostly in southern States, could increase their political representation. That original Constitution also continue to belittle women by not allowing them the vote that was necessary to make this a true democracy.

    Protracted wars and battles of all kinds were required to eliminate those inhumane aspects of the Judaeo-Christian model from our democracy. Now, as evangelical Christians like Michelle Bachmann are attempting to unconstitutionally infiltrate our democracy again, we must stand firm while we educate them in the facts of our origins and defend democracy against any infiltration by religion or any other form of oligarchy, even that of the tea partiers and all extreme religionists that taken over the Republican Party and are destroying it.

    All this shows clearly that a two-party political system and a lack of term limits for legislators and federal judges, along with any religious invasion, are a danger to what remains of democracy in this experiment.

  4. “You have confused a war on religion with not getting everything you want.”
    –Jon Stewart

  5. @ The Great God Pan
    “The evangelicals have been crowing for decades about the “culture war” they are waging.”

    @ PsiCop
    “The desire to be persecuted for believing in their Jesus is part and parcel of their religion’s psychopathology. They want to be martyrs for Christ. But they aren’t, ….

    So what they’re forced to do is invent persecution that doesn’t actually exist. That’s a recipe for delusion. And now that they’ve deluded themselves, they’re inflicting their delusion on everyone else.”

    @ gilhcan
    “Freedom of religion includes the right to be free of religion.”

    All very good and intelligent comments, especially PsiCop.

  6. At first glance, I misread the blue box at the end to read:

    “This article is not available for republicans.”

    : D true, after all! If one is under a delusional persecution complex, then actual data such as this article will be invisible!

    Billysees – yep, those are all good comments. Their delusional persecution complex is how they react to any efforts to stop them from enforcing Christian Sharia law on everyone.

  7. Using the phrase “Christian Sharia Law”, automatically reveals a profound lack of knowledge about either Christianity or actual Sharia Law.

  8. Nice try, Pan, but you’re rewriting history. The culture wars began in the late 1960s and 1970s, when the radical left began hijacking liberalism and using the executive and judicial branches to force its view of morality down people’s throats. The so-called religious right was born as a reaction to this assault.

    And nice try in restricting this to evangelicals. Devout Catholics and orthodox Jews feel the same way, as do many other Americans who don’t fit neatly into any category.

    And as for the Civil War, you’re obviously correct, but you Democrats were on the wrong side of that, as the party of slavery….then you became the party of Jim Crow segregation and racism….and now you’re the party that still refuses to treat black people as your intellectual equals, insisting they can’t make it on their own without your help.

  9. What is “Christian shar’ia law?” Only an ignoramus would equate Christianity, which has nothing to do with law, with one of the most brutal forms of law on the planet. This reminds me of the leftists of old who couldn’t tell the difference between the United States and the Soviet Union.

  10. Your fictionalized account of American history sounds like it came from some old Russian textbook before the fall of the Soviets.

    All anyone needs to do to refute you is read Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. Among the things the French nobleman visiting American noted was how, unlike in his native France, religion and democracy in America were not at odds, but blended together. The reason was precisely that evangelicals, beginning with Roger Williams in the 1600s, were champions of freedom of religion for all, meaning the right of everyone to choose their beliefs.

    You probably learned your history from old greenhorns from Europe, where religion and democracy were on opposite sides of the barricades.

    You’re wrong about slavery, too. While pastors could be found defending it, what birthed the 19th century abolitionist movement was the famous evangelical religious revival of the time…and the major abolitionists were in fact what we’d now call evangelicals. If you were alive then, I guarantee you’d be shouting down abolitionists for being driven by religious fanaticism. Ditto for women’s rights, which came on the heels of abolitionism.

  11. The whole “Democrats are the party of Jim Crow/slavery” nonsense ignores when the former segregationists fled to the Republican Party around the Nixon era. They became the “religious right” later touted by Reagan. Guys like yourself.

    “Forcing morality” is a euphemism for respecting people of different races and faiths in civil society, not trying to discriminate against them. Your “war on religion” is merely a reaction to not being able to extend unearned privilege over others under the color of law.

    Evangelicals have more political clout than Orthodox Jews and Devout Catholics in proportion to their numbers. So Pan is perfectly correct in referring to them in such a way.

    What is the deal with the “cramming down the throat” expression used by you guys? It is a ridiculous cliche that makes the writer sound like fool parroting a party line. It always gives me the feeling conservative Christians have some form of oral fixation. 🙂

  12. Well then, I guess you fully support the separation of church and state. You do not feel your religious beliefs require that all follow them under color of law. Do not feel that Christians are entitled to a privileged status over all other faiths in our society and government.

    That makes you the exception to the “religious right”.

  13. PsiCop, you leftists have a neat double standard. You’ve spent the past half century whining and claiming victimhood on every conceivable issue. Now when some opposing group is giving you a taste of your own medicine, you can’t handle it. The truth is that most people of any group have it darned good in America.

  14. Religion is not at odds in a democracy provided that church and state are not entangled. Just as what Roger Williams preached. A wall of separation to protect them both.

    Too bad the majority of religious conservatives chose to ignore such a message over time. Especially those who feel they are somehow oppressed in this country.

    Of course its ironic that those calling for civil liberties and women’s rights are the ones on the opposite side of the religious conservatives. You like to invoke them for effect but don’t agree with a word of their positions.

  15. Larry, that depends on what you mean by “separation of church and state.” If you mean no state religion, I support such a prohibition. That’s what the establishment clause is about. But if you mean the removal of all religion from public life, I’m against it — it violates the free exercise clause.

  16. The difference being, PsiCop is talking about people who actually were victims and lacked political power. The same can’t be said about whiny white Evangelicals.

    Its like when people talk about comments being anti-white, anti-male or anti-Christian. Since those groups were never kept oppressed by such things nor were ever outsiders to political power, it doesn’t have the same equivalence as their converse does.

  17. Evangelical Christians have had political control of large swaths of America -especially at the state and local level- for generations. They feel they are entitled to it, and happily for them, it coincides with THEIR IDEA of God’s will (God is a Southern American, you know)..
    Now, as the society changes for a myriad of reasons, they are loosing support, while others are gaining power in the zero sum game of politics.
    Here in Alabama, they are becoming meaner and more aggressive than ever, as their siege mentality trumps any ethical notions of representative government.
    My Birmingham school experience of half a Century ago included mandated daily Bible reading and prayer led by the teacher, and prayer at all sports events, and moral advice from all sides couched in Biblical terms and concepts. We told by our high school History teacher that Muhammed went out into the desert and had a “heat stroke” thus explaining away his behavior as a mere sickness.
    To this very day the evangelicals resent their loss of the power to enforce their values and policies on everyone. Using the phrase “Christian Sharia Law” is a nice emotional description,
    if not 100% accurate. It fits within poetic license.

  18. Again, Larry, that depends on what you mean by a “wall of separation.” If you mean no state religion, we are agreed. But if you mean all religious expression banned from the public square, we disagree — that violates the free exercise clause.

    My ancestors fought for women’s rights here, so this is no game on my part — from the right to be educated to suffrage.

    And as for civil rights, my Republican forebears launched America’s original civil rights revolution after the Civil War.

  19. No it doesn’t fit with “poetic license,” Samuel. It is a grotesque equation of two completely different phenomena. It is meant to distort and mislead.

  20. So you like to invoke the words of Roger Williams and the intent of the 1st Amendment but not the sum and substance of it.

    Wall of separation means a lot more than your uselessly reductive “no state religion”. It means things such as avoiding entanglement of the government apparatus with religious dogma and the requirement of laws and government actions to have rational and secular purposes. It means respecting religion by not showing favoritism to any given faith. It means not making religious belief a law unto itself to be used against others.

    Giving religious dogma color of law without any rational or secular purpose or motive is inherently discriminatory and violates all notions of the 1st Amendment. But that is exactly what is professed by those saying “America is a Christian nation” and claim a “war on religion”.

    Your forebearers were Democrats that jumped ship after the Civil Rights Act. Your ancestors may have fought for women’s rights but you do not. The social justice element of the Republican Party disappeared after the Taft presidency, never to return.

  21. I see my reference to “Christian Sharia Law” got some responses.

    Yes, there are few places today where this kind of law is being used, but history shows us that Christians are quite ready, willing and able to enact it.

    For instance, just research Calvin’s Geneva (such as by googling “laws in calvin’s geneva” or such), and compare that to Sharia law, or church law (especially regarding religious freedom) in the middle ages, or Augustine’s approval of converting people to be Christian on threat of death, or the Requerimento, or many other examples. Or read one or another of the Bibles, such as in Acts 5 (death for lying), Luke 19:27, etc. It takes a profound ignorance of history and scripture to fail to see the commonalities between Christian law and Sharia law.

  22. You couldn’t be more wrong about me, Larry. My family has supported civil rights going all the way back to after the civil war. And we supported evangelicals like Billy Graham who refused to preach to segregated audiences in the 1950s and early 1960s, resulting in his receiving death threats by segregationist bigots.

    As for the Democrats, it is a myth that the pro-segregationists were indistinguishable from later conservatives. The reality is way more complex and disturbing. Early in the last century, Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat and to this day an icon of progressivism, was notorious for being an ardent segregationist who entrenched Jim Crow in the federal bureaucracy, despite opposition from Republicans. And all the way through the 1960s, decades later, most of the staunchest segregationists were indistinguishable from progressives when it came to economic and other issues apart from race. Liberal icon William Fulbright, lionized by the left for his opposition to the Vietnam War, was one notorious example among many.

    Even as late as that time, a larger percentage of Republicans than Democrats voted for the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964.

    It is not at all clear that evangelicals have more clout than churchgoing Catholics, so you’re mistaken in assuming that they do.

    As for the “cramming down the throat” expression, it seems you’re the one with the fixation who are projecting it onto others. And in so doing, you attempt to dodge the obvious point being made — about who clearly started the so-called culture wars.

  23. The whining on all sides, evangelical and non-evangelical, is ridiculous in the final analysis. It reflected reality a long while ago — read my other posts about that, especially civil rights — but today is a very different landscape. We are a better and fairer country and so the whining today is absurd, no matter who’s doing it.

  24. We were never Democrats, Larry — ever.

    Most of what you wrote is jargon….what is “religious dogma?” I don’t see any evidence that Christians of any stripe are drafting laws mandating belief in the Trinity, or infant or adult baptism, so you need to define that term.

    What I do see in your latest post is a disturbing intolerance against people whose motives in advocating public policy positions on various issues are religious or spiritual.

  25. Calvin’s Geneva is four centuries and an ocean removed from American constitutional democracy, but good try anyway.

  26. No one inferred that religion and democracy were at odds–as long as religion is free and separate from civil activity there can be democracy. When there is any collusion between religion and government, as the efforts we are seeing by religious extremists in this country at this time, then democracy is lessened. That is the meaning of freedom of religion–which includes freedom from religion. That is the meaning of the separation of religion and government, church and state.

    There is no proper place for “In God We Trust” on our coins and currency. There is no rightful place for “…under God…” in the pledge of allegiance.

    As for Michele Bachmann, she is such a good Christian that the investigation into her dishonesty in past political campaigns has forced her to withdraw from considering a run for Congress again. Maybe she can start up a new, radical church and become its self-ordained minister.

  27. The secret is this: stop waging war. Evangelicals can declare victory, and then join with the rest of society to build up rather than indulge a hermeneutic of subtraction.

    Their problem with the 60’s and 70’s is that the legs were knocked out from what they considered just rewards for behaviors they would not engage in … publicly, at least. But the truth is that conservatives stumble just as much morally as liberals. Maybe it gets highlighted a bit more for evangelicals because the hypocrisy card is being handed to the other players.

  28. Jack: If by “public square” you mean any public place, any place owned by any level of government, then you are totally wrong. It does not matter what your ancestors did. What matters is what you do, what you advocate.

    If you think for a moment that what is meant by “civil rights” existed under the continuing, enslaving prejudice of southern Jim Crow, then you are totally wrong. If you mean by civil rights the ugly racial prejudice that exists throughout this country toward people of darker-than-white skin, even now, then you are very wrong. What do you think is the basis of objection, mostly southern, to any humane resolution of the immigration disagreements?

  29. And now you support people who try to attack the voting rights of the poor, elderly and minorities. You support attacking the ability of women to control their own health care and families. You support people who want to give purely sectarian religious agendas color of law.

    You are still committing the sin of omission here. Trying to ignore the developments and changes in party stances since the Nixon era and the efforts of subsequent political leaders. After 1968, the religious conservative Democrats left the party in droves. Under Reagan the overtly racist elements of the conservatives was muted and disguised as “fiscal responsibility”. It didn’t rise above subtext until recently.

    They were loyal but largely ignored by the Republican party for decades except through paying lip service to the “Social conservative” agenda. With the decline of the economy at the tail end of the GWB era, the fiscal conservatives lost most of their support. Leaving the previously ignored social conservatives their run of the party. The inmates are running the asylum.

    “It is not at all clear that evangelicals have more clout than churchgoing Catholics”

    The number of elected officials in comparison to the size of their population says otherwise.

  30. “Most of what you wrote is jargon….what is “religious dogma?””

    Can you give me the rational and secular motive and purpose behind opposing marriage equality?

    Can you give me a rational motive and purpose behind opposing access to contraception?

    Can you give me a secular motive behind using taxpayer funds to support teach sectarian religious beliefs?

    If you are advocating giving your religious belief the color of law and it lacks any kind of rational and secular purpose, it must be opposed at all levels as violating the Establishment Clause. Religious and spiritual positions are never going to be enough when the subject is laws binding people of all faiths/beliefs.

  31. It means much more than that. Always has. Your definition is reductive to the point of uselessness. Separation of church and state means that one’s religious beliefs are not enough to warrant state action in their favor. That protecting the right of free exercise of religion REQUIRES the government not to favor any given faith in its actions.

  32. Also, Jack: If you can overlook the loud and costly activity of the Catholic bishops to limit contraception to everyone just because they preach that it is morally wrong, then you are extremely short-sighted to try to claim that churches do not attempt to enforce their religious dogma on everyone through our laws. It need not be ritual.

    Catholic bishops paid for that costly politicking with the money of the people in their pews–the vast majority of whom do not practice what the celibate, chaste bishops preach. We know all about Catholic clerical celibacy and chastity from the sex crimes those chaste celibates committed against the children of those same people who sit in those same pews–whose money paid for all the legal expenses and court awards for the sex crimes against their kids by their religious leaders.

    Have you noticed how that monstrous problem had been quieted as time goes on? The pedophiles and ephebophiles got away with their crimes, the bishops continue their damnedest in their cover-up tactics–but at least the pews are not as full as they once were. I suppose and hope the church tills are less full also.

    Bishops like the jolly Cardinal Dolan of New York, when he was archbishop of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, took advice from his good Catholic lawyers and accountants as to how to transfer regular diocesan funds to diocesan cemetery endowments where they could not be touched, and where they gave the Milwaukee diocese the claim that it was broke and could not pay awards to sex crime victims ordered by courts. Benedict that rewarded Dolan for that clever, holy trick by giving him the New York archdiocese and a red cardinal’s hat. The dark ages of religion have not become at all brighter.

  33. Jack: Do you know nothing of canon law? Many churches have such laws, and many name theirs otherwise. They all have rules. They’re still laws, rules, whatever.

    If you really knew your Christian history, you would not claim that it is innocent of the obscenities against humanity that compare to Sharia law. It is just that Christian activity presently is not quite as wicked as it has been in its dark past, or as some Islamic activity–but many Christian and Islamic mouths can be equally nasty.

    Your are showing not only political bias, but political naiveté’ when you refer negatively and unfoundedly to “leftists” as not knowing the difference between the U.S. and the old Soviets. You sound like Senator Joe McCarthy, the red baiter of the 1950s from Wisconsin. “Have you no decency?” was very appropriately directed at him. Wisconsin does seem to have an undue share of political problems. I suggest you hit the books. A lot of books.

  34. “Devout Catholics and orthodox Jews feel the same way…”

    This article isn’t about Catholics and Orthodox Jews. I know conservatives favor the “Gish Gallop,” but I was attempting to stay on topic.

    “…a larger percentage of Republicans than Democrats voted for the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964.”

    Votes on the Civil Rights Act were determined by region, not political party. The former Confederate states opposed the bill, while the former Union states favored it. None of the Southern Republicans in Congress voted for the bill, while virtually all Northern Democrats did. In fact, a larger percentage of Northern Democrats than Northern Republicans voted for the CRA in both the House and the Senate.

  35. The Evangelicals don’t want to join with the rest of society. They want to control the rest of society. They ask for respect for their views but give none in return.

    This is why they attack things like the Separation of Church and State. This is why their view of free exercise of religion only refers to their own faith. Their problem with “culture” is that people are no longer staying quiet or cutting them slack for obnoxious malicious self-serving behavior.

  36. “50 percent of white evangelicals see themselves as victims.”
    This strikes me as very similar to the rhetoric of Muslim extremists. They claim victimhood when “normal” people pushback against them taking over and applying their religious agenda to the rest of us.

    Speaking of Muslims: We “normal” people need to do everything we can to protect our secular institutions because when the Muslim population bomb hits us in a few generations they will be even more determined than the current crop of white evangelicals to make us submit to the supernatural.

  37. That’s the old “why-did-you-beat-your-dog” tactic….And it boomerangs in this case because support for civil rights hardly leads to an “attack on the voting rights of the poor, elderly, and minority.” Reasonable people would argue the contrary.

    Your claim that “religious conservative” people left the Democrats undermines your claim that the motive was racial. Occam’s Razor suggests that we go for the most obvious explanation for a behavior — and the blindingly obvious reason that “religious conservatives” would leave the Democratic party (or any party) would be due to matters religious or perhaps cultural. And in fact, that’s what happened. When the Democratic party abandoned mainstream liberalism and adopted the radical agenda of the far left, that’s precisely when religious conservatives bolted. If it was due to race, Jimmy Carter would not have held his own in the South in the 1976 presidential race. Nor would a black conservative like Alan Keyes have won the Alabama GOP presidential caucus in 2000. Nor would Ben Carson, another black conservative, be enjoying broad support from white religious conservatives.

    IN other words, your claims of racism on the part of religious conservatives are baseless and contradicted by a number of inconvenient facts that argue otherwise.

    As to how “fiscal responsibility” is racist, you need to elaborate on that. You might as well say that breathing is racist. It’s silly.

  38. Pan, you’re ignoring the inconvenient fact that the Democrats in the south were indistinguishable from those in the north on most issues besides race. People like William Fulbright and Robert Byrd were “progressives,” not conservatives. So again, was Woodrow Wilson, an ardent Jim Crow adherent and, again, to this day a hero of the left. It took the heroic actions of men like Hubert Humphrey to take the Republican idea of civil rights — a post-civil-war, mid-to-late-1860s idea — and make it acceptable to Democrats. But that was nearly a century later. That’s how long it took for Democrats anywhere to come around to the idea.

    Hubert Humphrey, knowing the shamefully racist history of his party, clearly specified in Senate floor speeches on civil rights that there were to be no racial quotas in the bill. He knew perfectly well that his party had an ugly history of believing that blacks were intellectually inferior and thus should not be held to the same standards as other Americans.

    Unfortunately, Humphrey’s fear proved well-grounded….and in the final years of his life, he decried that view and the quota systems that came from it. Until the day he died, he stood up for racial equality in every sense of the word.

    Unfortunately, neither yesterday’s Democratic Jim Crow supporters nor today’s Democratic supporters of racial quotas believe in true racial equality, as Hubert Humphrey, father of the civil rights laws, did.

  39. Gilhcan, I’m not understanding your point. I’ve posted at length about the appalling and grotesque oppression of black people that your party, the Democrats, inaugurated as a response to the Republican civil rights revolution after the Civil War. So if you genuinely are opposed to racism, as you claim, then obviously that’s one area where we wholeheartedly agree.

  40. Hi Jack,
    “But if you mean the removal of all religion from public life, I’m against it — it violates the free exercise clause.”
    The devil is in the details, for instance; If public official goes to his church and leads the “lord’s prayer”, that is Constitutionally protected free exercise.
    But if the same official is conducting a public hearing as chair of his Senate committee, he is an agent of the Federal government and as such representative he should refrain. An appeal to Historical Precedent does not control the law, it is a mere argument.
    Slavery was legal until it was not. That is the way law works. Judge Moore, wildly popular here in Alabama, lost his battle to make the ten commandments part of Alabama law.
    Now I pose to you this question, why do you wish for public officials to engage in religious practices in public? Is it not to simply to impress the Christian viewpoint on non Christians? Would you wish those with other religions to do the same? Times change. A chaplain no longer always means a theist, much less a Christian. Are you ready for Vishnu, Allah, Buda the, Bahai? Really? I do not believe you are.

  41. “in this case because support for civil rights hardly leads to an “attack on the voting rights of the poor, elderly, and minority.” Reasonable people would argue the contrary”

    And yet the Republican party which used to support civil rights, now attacks it. You are deliberately confusing history with current conduct. And of course ignoring the major change to conservative politics more than 45 years ago. As you continue to deny the origins of the “religious right” and engage in dishonest revisionism
    “The Real Origins of the Religious Right
    They’ll tell you it was abortion. Sorry, the historical record’s clear: It was segregation

    “The alienation of Southern Democrats from the Democratic Party contributed to the rise of the right”

    When it comes to racism and conservative politics, all I have to do is quote the “birthers” and cite rhetoric employed in voting rights issues and their stance on immigration reform. Racism is still a strong selling point, but now other forms of bigotry have found their use as well.

  42. Notice how your history of the democratic/republican parties seems to end just before the Nixon presidency. Still can’t admit what is plainly obvious to everyone you are addressing. There is really no point pretending to take you seriously with such obvious mendacity.

  43. Larry, you seem to be a real fan of euphemisms. I’m not, so it would be perfectly reasonable for me to ask you what you mean by “marriage equality.” I will venture a guess on what you mean by the terms in order to save time. But your definition works only works if you first redefine the word, “marriage” and give it a meaning that no society in history, regardless of underlying beliefs, ever gave it. That includes the ancient Greeks and Romans, who celebrated homosexuality but would have laughed out loud at the thought of redefining the word, “marriage.” I suspect that would be true as well for famous gay people of any era of history. If you asked any of them what they wanted from society, it’s hard to imagine a reply that marriage should be redefined. The more likely answer would be to be left alone by government to live life as they wish, and obviously to have basic rights such as the right to inherit or bequeath to others an inheritance.

    So if by “marriage equality,” you really mean the redefinition of marriage, you have it backwards. The burden is hardly on supporters of the definition that was accepted in all times and places in history until about a decade or two ago to come up with some extraordinary reason for their support. The burden is on those seeking to change the definition to show why every society in history, from puritanical to libertine and everything in between, societies that have nothing otherwise in common with each other, are all wrong and they are right.

    Ask a reasonable man or woman of any time or place for a “rational and secular motive and purpose” for why marriage should not be redefined from what it has meant in every time, place, and known culture, from restrictive to wide open, and they would look at you as though you were from another world.

    As far as contraception goes, the Griswold decision prohibits any state from banning contraception, so I don’t know what you’re talking about on that issue. And Griswold was decided 50 years ago, so it’s not a recent issue. You need to elaborate, because if you mean something other than banning contraception, you need to say what it is. There are several possibilities.

  44. That’s a whole lot of verbiage, none of which explains away the fact that a breakdown of the votes clearly shows the Civil Rights Act was a North/South issue, not a Republican/Democrat issue. This point is only reinforced, not weakened, by the fact that Northern and Southern Democrats agreed on other issues.

    Face it, this particular GOP talking point was DOA despite its continued popularity in internet comment sections. If it had any legs, the people who continue to proudly fly their treasonous Confederate flags and fill up the ranks of KKK chapters would be progressives who vote Democratic. They aren’t. A special breed of racism will always live on in the South no matter which party dominates.

  45. Gilhcan, I’m not a Catholic and I disagree with Catholics on contraception and a number of other issues. But unless the issue is the actual banning of contraception, which was declared unconstitutional via the Griswold decision 50 years ago, I support the right of Catholic organizations to be who and what they are. And that includes their right not to endorse what their conscience opposes. If they were yelling fire in a crowded theater, or telling people to go out and kill others, that would be one thing. But so long as they are not, their rights of conscience should be respected, just as every one of us would want our rights of conscience to be accorded similar deference on other matters.

    As for the horrifying hypocrisy of Catholic clergy who committed unspeakable acts against children, they belong behind bars, period, and it’s a scandal that they are not. I would argue for a still-tougher penalty than that, but I digress. But that has nothing to do with whether their position on contraception is legally defensible or not. That would be an ad hominem argument, ie since Hitler presumably believed that 2 and 2 make 4 and Hitler was a monster, 2 and 2 must not make 4.

  46. Author

    Hi folks,It’s my name and face on Faith & Reason so I need to set a tone for the discussion.
    I want civility and I want a variety of voices.
    1) No one denigrates other’s beliefs or decides who is “normal” or accuses people of mendacity.
    2) State your view point and step aside for others — even when you think they are wrong. You really are not charged with clubbing people into agreeing with your view.
    3) A post or two per topic is enough. When a handful of people dominate the comment stream, it cyberbullies people into silence or scares away new voices.
    A blog is a little community. At Faith & Reason, all
    are welcome who can be respectful of each other.

  47. And Jon Stewart confuses being a comedian with being a journalist.

  48. “To many evangelicals, such as U.S. Rep Michele Bachmann, shown here at a 2012 rally, the legal battle over the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act was a test of religious liberty.” – To People, like Myself, Who are not the “white evangelical” demographic this article seeks to describe, the legal battle was such a test as well. I have no problem protecting the freedom of (peaceful) religious exercise of Others because I know someday I will want that same kind of protection for something equally important to Me.

  49. As opposed to Fox News where people confused journalists end up being comedians (of the unintentional variety).

  50. Re: “PsiCop, you leftists have a neat double standard.”

    I’m not a Leftist, but if it makes you feel better to call me one, you just go right ahead. Your feelings, after all, are FAR more important than facts.

    Re: “You’ve spent the past half century whining and claiming victimhood on every conceivable issue.”

    I haven’t done anything except declare myself a non-believer. Does that bother you? If so, too bad. There is nothing you can do to change it. And I do mean, NOTHING. As for other people, I’m not them, so I have no idea why you’re holding me responsible for whatever it is you think they did.

    Re: “Now when some opposing group is giving you a taste of your own medicine, you can’t handle it.”

    … says the whiney, juvenile little creature who clearly “can’t handle it,” either. Well done! You’ve just conclusively demonstrated yourself a hypocrite. But if so, you’d better watch out: Your own Jesus explicitly forbid you ever to be hypocritical (see

    Re: “The truth is that most people of any group have it darned good in America.”

    Agreed … so why are you and the rest of the Religious Right stomping around pitching fits over no longer being able to impose your beliefs on everyone?

  51. Hi Cathy,
    Your column, your rules, well certainly, and passion is no excuse for incivility,
    but as Mark Silk observed, many poster’s opinions are like a drive by shooting.
    I like an exchange of ideas which forces thought, rather than just a repetitive sample of public opinion.
    Perhaps we could have a forum on this site where the topic is whatever the posters want to discuss regarding Religion and belief. A moderator would be required, and
    it might turn into a free for all, but it also might also change some minds and provide some insights.

  52. Fear isn’t a good thing. Have a faith more filled with fear than with hope doesn’t really inspire to generous, selfless behaviors. It may, however, lead to defensive, protective measures that try to take and hold an in-group’s vision of a Promised Land than either create a Promised Land out of a wasteland and share it for a common good. A certain kind of faith is dead as such. We’re mere observing agonal last breaths. Watch.

  53. From the article:

    “About one in three white evangelicals say it has become more difficult to be a person of their faith in the U.S. today, according to the Pew survey. And about the same number say they think of themselves as a religious minority because of their beliefs. No other group comes close to this sense of unease.”

    Three points stand out … 1. white, 2. evangelical, 3. religious

    Hearing from the white, evangelical, religious, only, please … share in why you feel it has become more difficult to be a person of faith in the US today.

    To add: I was watching the news not long ago and heard what is called Gov. Deval Patrick’s “stump speech” to the National Association of Black Journalists, and in this speech, he made the comment, “I am a black man …”

    My question to all: what do you think would happen if this governor, or any governor, met in Boston, or anywhere, and gave a speech to:

    The National Association of White Journalists
    The National Association of Gay Journalists
    The National Association of Straight Journalists
    The National Association of White Paramedics …?

    I am not taking any positions in this; I am genuinely curious in hearing your thoughts.

    Peace and Love

  54. You know the answer. Some folks are born oppressors and some are born victims. The former should spend their lives apologizing in shame for their (presumed) ancestors sins, and the latter should receive reparations, and given a pass for any bad personal behavior. Individuals deviating from their assigned role should be shunned as immoral.

  55. If “support for civil rights” means support for equality of outcome rather than equality of opportunity, then what you’re supporting is a crude betrayal of the very term, “civil rights.” As I noted in a prior post here, the late Democratic Senator Hubert Humphrey, father of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the one who finally put civil rights into the Democratic platform in 1948, did not support racial quotas and other forms of equal outcome and in fact warned during the debate over his civil rights bill in 1964 against changing it into a quotas bill.

    The goal of civil rights is to make America into a color-blind nation in which, in Dr. King’s words, people are judged on their character not skin color. As Humphrey warned, quotas do precisely the opposite. Racial equality means equal treatment in all ways, not discrimination either for or against anybody based on race or any factor besides pure merit.

    But the radical left didn’t want to hear that, and so, when he ran for president in 1972 (the second time), they accused him of being a “conservative.”

    I made my case that the so-called religious right was about religion, not race, but you chose to ignore the points made. Look up Occam’s Razor one of these days — again, it’s a good common-sense rule on how, in most areas of life, the obvious explanation is the correct one. What drives the religious right is……drumroll, please…..religion. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck, and probably isn’t a tangerine or a xylophone.

  56. No, Larry, it didn’t end with the Nixon presidency. You are obviously obsessed with Nixon, whom I probably despise even more than you do, by the way. I know all about Nixon’s “Southern Strategy,” but again, no matter what his strategy was, the fact that Jimmy Carter, a post-Nixon Democrat, more than held his own in the South in the 1976 presidential race, strongly refutes the idea that race is what drove the South as a whole, let alone religious people, Republican. There is no way in the world Carter could have won the presidency without very substantial white southern support….and that’s what he got.

    The electoral evidence strongly points to the 1980 election — 16 long years after the 1964 Civil Rights Act — as the watershed election for the south’s going Republican. This suggests that it was not the 1960s Civil Rights revolution, but the 1970s cultural wars, that shifted religious voters into the GOP camp.

  57. I hope you’re not saying that if people have a religious motivation in supporting or opposing a stance on an issue, that effectively silences their voices on that issue. If you are, that’s totalitarianism, and unworthy of a free society. Again, you need to clarify.

  58. The fact that everyone stumbles morally is obviously the case, but if you’re saying that means nobody should ever speak out against anything, that’s a rather absurd conclusion to a true-enough premise. Obviously, if person A is, say, someone with a hate problem, then obviously, person A has no business speaking out against the problem of hate in a society. But surely it doesn’t mean other people who don’t have this problem shouldn’t speak out against it.

  59. Samuel, what’s your point? I made the seemingly innocuous point that the Constitution does not ban all religious expression in the public square.

    Note the word, “all.” I put it there for a reason. I never said that every kind of expression is permitted — for no human right is absolute. The “no-yelling-fire-in-a-crowded-theater” is an obvious example that makes that point.

    I’m simply opposing the absolutist position that seeks in practice to ban all religion from public life. In so doing, I am certainly not advocating for the opposite form of absolutism.

    And no, it’s not a matter of wanting or not wanting public officials to speak about religion in public. It’s a matter of what their rights are when they step into the public square. Does their right to free expression regarding religion magically evaporate once they leave their home? Of course it doesn’t. Yet that’s what you seem to be saying. The question of whether or not they should always exercise that right in public is a separation question, as you well know. I, for one, would be turned off by a politician who can’t stop talking about religion. But at the same time, I would defend that person’s right to speak about religion in public whenever they darned well please. Speaking incessantly about anything is folly, but the punishment for folly should be losing the respect of the citizenry, not some totalitarian ban.

  60. Actually, gilhcan, as Arthur Schlesinger, former aide to JFK, once said, it is the tyranny of political correctness that most resembles McCarthyism. He decried the radical-left’s hijacking of liberalism since the 1960s. So did Humphrey. So did Henry Jackson. So did a whole generation of post-WW II liberals after the late 1960s.

    Tell me, gilhcan, were they McCarthyites?

    How is it McCarthyite to oppose the illiberalism of the radical left? I would argue that the radical left and McCarthyism are two sides to the same coin. Both are enemies of liberal democracy and the civil discourse that accompanies it. Both demonize people who dare to disagree with them — refusing to admit that well-meaning people may be found on both sides of nearly every issue.

    So I suggest you “hit the books,” because your view of history is one-dimensional, with the lack of nuance and irony that is characteristic of the radical left, as it was and is of the radical right.

  61. Todd, you’re engaging in quite a bit of revisionist history. What created the so-called culture wars was the radical left’s attempted takeover of liberalism, destroying what Arthur Schlesinger once called “the vital center,” its attempts to impose its radicalism on society through the machinery of government, and finally, its intolerance of dissent of any kind.

    To this day, anyone who dares to disagree with it on its positions is subjected to personal attacks and vilification.

    There isn’t a hint of recognition that decent people can be found on all sides of most issues. And without that recognition, respectful dialogue becomes impossible.

  62. Nice try, Larry, but you have it backwards. It is the radical left that wants to control the rest of society — evangelical or non-evangelical, religious or irreligious — and the country remains split down the middle on the resulting issues which have emerged. In some areas, the extremists are winning, in others they are not. It is not a conspiracy, but it is a battle of ideas on every issue. Culture and religion are on front in the battle, but there are many others as well.

    To write as though any group or movement other than the extremist left began this struggle is to play hard and fast with historical truth.

    The far left likes to start wars, but it whines incessantly when other people dare to fight back.

  63. I actually agree that a case can be made for removing “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance — not because it has no right to be there, but because there are times when simple gestures of humility and decency of the majority toward the minority are the respectful thing to do. The problem, as we see on this board, is that we are all so polarized on the culture, nobody wants to give anything.

    Right now we have a food fight between the radical left and right, with those of us who don’t easily fit in totally with either side being forced to choose sides. Maybe the answer is to recover the old pre-counterculture liberalism, in which rights are no longer divorced from responsibilities. I don’t know if that’s even possible anymore, but maybe somehow it is.

    Without this, people like me are going to support the conservative side by default, because the far left is so uncivil and prone to demonize, take no prisoners, and engage in Saul Alinsky-like tactics. And for those who know or care about history, Alinsky’s immediate enemy was not the right but the moderate left and center.

  64. Samuel, I think the problem is that on hot-button issues revolving around religion, everybody has a strong opinion, and most people naturally and often honestly think that their side is more civil than the other. Tolerance is a much-used word, but it is truly rare to find people with strong opinions on anything who are tolerant of those on the other side. I don’t claim to have the answers on this.

    I will say that this board is nowhere near as bad as some of the others I’ve seen and that is a tribute to this web site, which attracts pretty decent people from what I can tell.

    But the moderator is correct…..we have all stepped over the line at certain moments. But all in all, not bad…..

  65. Brian P., I think you’re putting all evangelicals into a box. You can have two people from the same religion, both of whom believe exactly the same thing — and one can fit your stereotype and be filled with fear while the other can be filled with love. There is no political, cultural, or religious test for who is fear-filled and who isn’t. It’s much more a function of psychology and personality than belief or religion. To make character or personality judgments about someone based on their religious bent really leads nowhere.

  66. Samuel,

    If I knew the answer … I would not have asked 😉

    I am trying to better understand their upset. It may be possible that none (or very few) read these articles enough to post. This might tell us something about why they feel as they do.


  67. Hi Jack,
    “everybody has a strong opinion”
    Fine, but not everybody is part of the traditional well funded power structure here in Dixie. Locally, the Baptists lead the most powerful political force, which are the churches, in aggregate.
    “Tolerance is a much-used word”
    Tolerance does not mean approval. It means to permit despite disapproval.
    The Churches have a long history of using law to suppress “sinful” activities,
    regardless of how popular they may be (dry counties, gambling, etc.).
    The two “belief” sides in question basically break up this way.
    Side one: We are loyal to God. We have his instructions and we act on them.
    Side two: Nobody speaks for the gods. Not now, not then. It is ignorant to claim to (me and the other unbelievers fit into this group).
    I freely admit that some folks in group two (like the Progressives) act as if they have access to the “truth”, so act much like Side one. They too are wrong, because knowledge of “truth” is beyond human capacity.
    Unbelievers like me do not “believe” in science. I honor Darwin, but I will not be loyal to his theory when the evidence demands another theory. “Knowledge” is a subject for another day.

  68. No Jack, Carter’s election was proof that most people did not particularly like the only president never elected to office, Gerald Ford. The one who pardoned the only president to resign from office. In the years between Nixon and Reagan, there was only one Democrat as president.

  69. The radical left? Where? They have never had any significant impact on American politics except in reaction to them. Even Democrats are far more to the right of center than you are willing to admit to.

    And no, “Culture war” amounts to nothing more than Christians bemoaning the fact that they can’t run roughshod over American culture like they used to.

    The reality is we have a small, vocal and politically disproportionately powerful group of people calling themselves Christians who are constantly trying to pretend their religious belief entitles them to rights and privileges above others. They do this though things like historical revisionism (lying in public about our history), abusing any concept of religious freedoms (no, it does not give you the right to harm others) and finding new and interesting ways to give bigotry color of law.

  70. I said rational motive for opposing marriage equality. What you gave is nonsense (“changing definitions, oh my!”) and fiction (the burden is on the government to justify marriage bans not the other way around)

    Tradition and “definitions” only get to be preserved if there is a rational and secular purpose behind doing so. All you have told me is that you feel the need to make up something ridiculous because you are too afraid to just admit to something plainly obvious to everyone.

  71. Samuel, your claim that “knowledge of truth is beyond human capacity” contradicts itself. If all truth is unknowable, so is that statement.

    It would be more accurate so say that “much knowledge of truth is beyond human capacity.”

    As for the openness to refutation, the problem with demanding that of Christians is that their belief in God is not just an intellectual or cognitive proposition, but a trust in a Person. Put another way, loyalty to an abstract proposition is quite different from loyalty to a person. If one refuses to abandon a mere proposition under any circumstances, we can call that person pig-headed and stubborn. You and I agree on that. But if one refuses to abandon another
    person under any circumstances, we call that fidelity.

    When it comes to belief in God, the complexity is precisely that we’re dealing with a mix of the two — a proposition, yes, that theism is true, but also at least a perceived relationship with another being, in which abandoning the proposition necessarily means abandoning the relationship.

    So your analogy doesn’t quite work because the two situations — a proposition about a scientific theory vs. a proposition plus a perceived relationship with another being — are much too different.

  72. So in other words, Terry, you’re an equal-opportunity despiser of Christians and Muslims. If you were a white southern male in the pre-civil-rights south, you’d probably feel the same way about black people. You are proof that intolerance is more a function of individual personality than particular ideological bent.

  73. Larry, I can literally draw a line down the center of a page, with the headings “liberal” and “radical left”, and demonstrate how, on issue after issue, the radical left has pushed aside liberalism and hijacked its name.

    Take any liberal from the past and place that person in today’s so-called liberal circles, and that person would be booted out after being called vile names, and then deemed a “reactionary” or a “conservative.”

  74. No Larry, as I mentioned, it is your resort to euphemisms that speaks volumes. “Marriage equality” sounds innocuous enough, until one realizes that you’ve changed the definition of the first of those two words to something it has never been in any time or place. To attribute the original definition solely to a religious bias ignores the fact that even societies that celebrated homosexuality never thought to change the definition. Under the normal course of events, nobody, either heterosexual or homosexual, would have given the matter any thought. The issue was created not by gay people, but by straight lefties who for years had railed against marriage as an antiquated institution that forced monogamy on a naturally polygamous humanity. The idea of changing the definition was meant to be a mockery of the thing itself, just as lefty men dressing up as nuns and calling themselves the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence was meant to mock the Catholics, not expand the definition of nuns.

    The idea that the same people who thought marriage was a reactionary and restrictive curse on humanity suddenly would recommend such an institution to gay people is just laughable. Obviously something else was going on….and that something else is blindingly obvious.

  75. Let me guess, you are going to accuse the current president of being a secret socialist and claim he has revived the “radical left”. 🙂

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  79. The answer as to why evangelical Christians feel threatened is fairly obvious to anyone who is not totally oblivious to popular culture such as movies, plays, art, and television. Evangelical Christians are seldom portrayed in these media and when they are it is almost always a stereotypical caricature that is portrayed. When evangelical Christians are one of the few groups that can be slandered, ridiculed, and spoken about with hate in the media with complete impunity, this provides a rational basis for concern.

  80. is

    THE professor guy from the college that covered up
    Jesus for a Obama speech ..?

    one only hears defending of homosexuals and defending of abortions and knocking conservative church’s from liberal church’s and colleges that would cover up Jesus for some other person’s speech..

    that kind of says it all..

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