A recent Gallup poll highlights what many political insiders know intuitively: that the cultural divide between religious and non-religious Americans plays out at the ballot box.
Two-thirds (66%) of Americans describe themselves as somewhat or very religious, while one-third (33%) say they are "non-religious." According to Gallup, each of the presidential candidates, Republican Mitt Romney and Democrat Barack Obama, benefits from a core group of supporters defined by their religious perspectives. President Obama commands strong support (54% v. 38% for Romney) among white Americans who describe themselves as non-religious, while Mitt Romney followers are decidedly religious (62% of moderately or strongly religious voters support Romney while just 29% are fans of President Obama).
Religious Americans understand the stakes in this election because we have felt the consequences of the most-anti-religion President of our time. President Obama has gutted the work begun by President Bush's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives (renamed under President Obama as The Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships). His administration argued in the Supreme Court against the right of religious organizations to set religious hiring criteria for ministerial employees-and thankfully got slapped down 9-0 by the Supreme Court. His administration also has refused to allow continuation grants for successful Catholic programs to aid the victims of human trafficking--because those programs will not promote abortion. And his HHS Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, claims to be "respecting religious beliefs" even while compelling faith-based employers, with few exceptions, to provide coverage for contraception, sterilizations, and emergency contraception. The list of attacks against religious freedom by this administration is long.
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Amidst this cultural divide comes the news that membership among Muslims (66.7%) and Mormons (45.5%) grew dramatically in the past ten years and evangelical Christianity grew moderately, with 12.3% growth in metropolitan areas. These religions, according to one expert, appeal to seekers because, "[t]here's something about strictness, a call to commitment, to people ready-made for conversions." The coherence of Christianity, lived with conviction, is compelling.