Politics roundup: Atheists, Abortion vs. Economy, Obama’s faith outreach
I am in Washington for the annual conference of the Religion Newswriters Association, which gathers together journos on the God beat at secular media outlets. Many good sessions and interesting surveys and speakers. I won’t clutter the blog with my reports for Beliefnet, but here are summaries and links to three that may be of interest to readers of this blog:
INSIDE OBAMA’S GOD OPS: The candidate’s top religious outreach officials respond to polls questioning Obama’s inroads with believers and explain their faith-based strategy for the rest of the campaign.
ABORTION? GAY MARRIAGE? IT’S THE (STUPID) ECONOMY! Do the hot-button culture war issues like abortion and gay marriage matter? If you read only blogs or the news coverage (such as this NYTimes story, “Abortion Issue Again Dividing Catholics”) you might get the impression that these are the central issues, and indeed the key to victory for McCain or Obama in November. Think again. Religion research guru John Green of the University of Akron (and the Pew Forum) today released the results of his fifth national mid-summer survey of voters, taken every four years during June, July and August, and this year’s results show two things…
AMONG THE UNBELIEVERS: NEW POLL SHOWS SECULARIST STRENGTH: Results from the huge American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) of 2000 stunned many and led to heated debates when it showed some 14 percent of Americans embracing some form of secularism. Preliminary numbers released today from the upcoming 2008 ARIS survey show that figure has held steady or even inched up a bit, to 15 percent. Barry Kosmin, the project researcher from the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society at Trinity College, broke the numbers down: The 15 percent figure (about 32 millions adult Americans) includes a wide variety of unbelievers, non-believers, and unchurched. Just 4 percent of this cohort identify as atheist, 6 percent as agnostic, and 1 percent as secular/humanist. 89 percent identify as simply no religion, the “rejectionist” position. A further breakdown is fascinating fodder for debate. One of the most interesting findings is that the typical member of the “Nones,” as they are known (those who identify with no religion) is an Irish (34 percent) former Catholic (25 percent) or raised with no religion (29 percent. (Jews are also overrepresented, at 5 percent, as are Asians, at 8 percent of all Nones.)