Sunday, June 21, 2015

Does the GOP Face a Challenge in 2016 as Americans Skew Less Christian?

If the U.S. population is becoming less and less Christian, why does the Republican presidential campaign sometimes feel like a revival meeting?
Last month, Jeb Bush became the latest GOP hopeful to make the pilgrimage to Liberty University, the world's largest evangelical Christian school, where Texas Sen. Ted Cruz announced his candidacy in March.
Ted Cruz announces his presidential candidacy at Liberty 
University in Lynchburg, Va., on March 23, 2015.
(Photo: Mark Wilson, Getty Images)
And this week, a baker's dozen of declared and potential Republican presidential candidates address the Faith & Freedom Coalition, which is trying to mobilize the conservative evangelical vote.
Timothy Head, the coalition director, says he didn't even have to invite candidates to the Road to Majority Conference in Washington: "People contacted us — 'Can I come?'''
Yet just last month the Pew Research Center released a survey showing that the percentage of Americans who call themselves Christian has been going down a point a year, to 70.6% in 2014.
Meanwhile, those who report no religious affiliation — "nones'' — are increasing their share of the body politic.
And Americans' confidence in organized religion, which has fallen dramatically over the past four decades, hit an all-time low this year of 42%, according to a Gallup poll released Wednesday. Only about half of Protestants or Roman Catholics say they have a great deal of confidence in the church and organized religion.
It's a remarkable development in what President Harry Truman and many others (including some non-believers) have described as "a Christian nation.''
The political implications of the changing face of American religious identities are stark. Nones are far more likely to vote Democratic — in 2012, Barack Obama got 70% of religiously unaffiliated voters, compared with 26% for Mitt Romney — and skew liberal on issues such as same-sex marriage, abortion and legalization of marijuana.
John McCain on the campaign trail in 2008 in Nevada
Conversely, in recent general elections three in four evangelicals have gone Republican. So on the GOP campaign trail, it still seems like 2006. That's when Sen. John McCain — who in his previous presidential campaign had called Liberty's fundamentalist founder, the Rev. Jerry Falwell, an agent of intolerance — had to come to the school to mend fences with evangelicals.
Read the rest of the story HERE.

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