Patrick Hynes

So let us sum up. Americans who attend church with greater frequency than their neighbors tend to be richer, healthier, and happier, less prone to commit acts of crime, and more likely to get and stay married; possible explanations include educational background and the influence of religion in withstanding worldly pressures.

Now, at the risk of mixing religion and politics – a no-no in our ongoing public dialogue unless you are condemning the Religious Right – allow me to mention another, more established correlation: the frequency with which you attend church is determinative of the likeliness you will vote Republican on Election Day. 

According to exit polling data on the 2004 election, Americans who attended church “more than once a week” voted to reelect President George W. Bush by a margin of 64% to 35% over Sen. John Kerry.  Those who attended church weekly voted for Bush over Kerry by a margin of 58%-41%. The tiniest of a majority of those who attend church monthly voted for Bush over Kerry 50% to 49%. But those who attend church “only a few times a year” or “never” favored John Kerry with majorities of 54% and 62%, respectively. 

Attending church regularly is a greater predictor of your voting Republican than having served in the military or earning over $100,000 a year. To put it another way, white evangelical Christians (the church-goingist of churchgoers) voted in greater strength for George W. Bush in 2004 than homosexuals did for John Kerry (and there are more evangelicals than gays.)

So what do these two sets of data mean? If anything, they ought to cause Hollywood and the mainstream media to redefine their central casting stereotype of religious conservatives. For too long the working definition of a Christian conservative has been, in Michael Weisskopf’s notorious words in the Washington Post, “largely poor, uneducated, and easy to command.”  The truth, apparently, is exactly the opposite.

Patrick Hynes

Patrick Hynes is the president of New Media Strategics, a blog relations consultancy. He is the proprietor of Ankle Biting Pundits and the author of In Defense of the Religious Right (Nelson Current).

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