November 30, 2010

White Evangelicals and politics

Reading around this morning, I found this Pew Forum poll on political views and religion. Some very interesting things in there, including, I think, some confirmation that a lot of conservative evangelicals hold political beliefs that are not filtered through their faith. As I read the report, evangelicals see homosexual issues and abortion through the lens of their faith, but not issues like immigration and the environment. (Oddly enough, btw, white evangelicals support more stricter environmental regulations. They just don't vote that way.)

I have been musing for sometime that conservative evangelicals (and probably not just them) compartmentalize their faith and their politics. Over here, we have faith and "quiet times" and BSF meetings and the "personal relationship with Jesus as most important thing in the world." In that world, concern for the poor and the prisoner are at least talked about.

But over here, we have politics where tax cuts dominate, and government programs for the poor are derided as helping "welfare queens" and encouraging "dependency" and "laziness." Here, prisoners are to be feared and it is ok if they are executed in an unfair system or tortured if in the wrong place at the wrong time in the "war on Terror."

I am not sure why the disconnect, frankly. But I think it is partly because the church themselves have decided that certain topics and moral issues are not church worthy. They can and do grapple with the concept of marriage and homosexuality and abortion, but do not, in the main, grapple with the environment, torture, capital punishment, or even the broader issues of poverty. As I have told a friend of mine, when the church refuses to address these moral issues, they abdicate their role as moral leader and essentially leave that to Fox News (for the conservative church goer) or other institutions.

I remember well that Pew poll that showed some 60% of white evangelicals supporting torture in some form. Many of those polled said that their support for Bush's torture regime was not based in their faith at all. In fact, when asked to address torture through the lens of their faith, support dropped.

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