Advice on Evangelical Outreach

May 10, 2012, 11:02 am | Posted by

In the New York Times this week, Stanford anthropologist T.M. Luhrmann theorizes how different faith experiences affect how evangelicals conceive of politics and offers some advice to progressives looking to connect with to these religious voters:

When secular liberals vote, they think about the outcome of a political choice. They think about consequences. Secular liberals want to create the social conditions that allow everyday people, behaving the way ordinary people behave, to have fewer bad outcomes.

When evangelicals vote, they think more immediately about what kind of person they are trying to become — what humans could and should be, rather than who they are. From this perspective, the problem with government is that it steps in when people fall short. Rick Santorum won praise by saying (as he did during the Values Voters Summit in 2010), “Go into the neighborhoods in America where there is a lack of virtue and what will you find? Two things. You will find no families, no mothers and fathers living together in marriage. And you will find government everywhere: police, social service agencies. Why? Because without faith, family and virtue, government takes over.” This perspective emphasizes developing individual virtue from within — not changing social conditions from without.

If Democrats want to reach more evangelical voters, they should use a political language that evangelicals can hear. They should talk about the kind of people we are aiming to be and about the transformational journey that any choice will take us on. They should talk about how we can grow in compassion and care. They could talk about the way their policy interventions will allow those who receive them to become better people and how those of us who support them will better ourselves as we reach out in love. They could describe health care reform as a response to suffering, not as a solution to an economic problem.

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Ohio Faith Leaders to State Legislature: Protect Fair Election Laws

May 10, 2012, 10:52 am | Posted by

On Tuesday, the Ohio House of Representatives voted to repeal controversial voting restriction laws that were “supposed to go before voters on Nov. 6 — the first known case in Ohio history in which legislators repealed a bill up for referendum.”

While any opportunity to reinstate voting rights should come a welcome development, the repeal left in place rules that end in-person voting the weekend before Election Day and prevents Ohioans from acting on their referendum rights.

We Believe Ohio—a group of faith leaders in the Buckeye State—are standing up against these Republican-passed limits to early voting.

A member of the group, Rev. Timothy Ahrens of the First Congregational Church in Columbus, said people of faith have moral obligation to defend voting rights

 There seems to be a crisis in this state when lawmakers need to play games and pull tricks instead of restoring the opportunity for voting for all Ohioans. It’s a moral issue that we have as a sacred trust in this American democracy an opportunity and a chance to vote. There is a need for early voting and the question before us today is: is early voting going to be Saturday, Sunday and Monday before Election Day? [Editors’ Note: More than 93,000 Ohioans voted during that three-day period in 2008]

As numerous state legislatures work to restrict the voting rights of historically disenfranchised groups of people, people of faith and voters around the country will need to keep standing up for every individual’s right to vote and reject discrimination at the polls.

Christopher Hale contributed to this post.

Photo Credit: Kristin_a. Flickr

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Millennials: Economic Justice Must Buttress Budgetary Decisions

April 20, 2012, 4:18 pm | Posted by

Amid the intense debate about the Paul Ryan budget and competing visions for the future, the future has finally gotten the chance to speak.

In a millennial values survey conducted by Georgetown University’s Berkley Center and the Public Religion Research Institute, the data is clear: young people are frustrated with economic policies that promote injustice.

Nearly three-quarters of Millennials (73%) think the economic system in the United States favors the wealthy. This belief is consistent across all divides of race, gender, educational attainment or religious affiliation. Even 6-in-10 Milllennial Republicans (58%) agree with this sentiment.

Equal opportunity is also of great concern to Milllennials. More than 6-in-10 think that one of the major issues in the United States is that we don’t give all the same opportunity in life.

As all eyes turn to the race for the White House this election year, pundits will be obsessed with the latest poll numbers, NASCAR dads and soccer moms. But perhaps they will pay a bit more attention to the concerns affecting young people, namely fair economic opportunity for all.

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Sojourners Breaks Myth of Monolithic Christian Vote

April 19, 2012, 2:56 pm | Posted by

Sojourners is launching its new “Voting for Us” campaign highlighting the way that Christians (particularly young Christians) are concerned about a broad array of issues that go beyond traditional stereotypes about “values voters.”

Watch their video introducing the campaign:

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Religious voters in the AL and MS primary exit polls

March 15, 2012, 9:37 am | Posted by

The exit polls in Alabama and Mississippi revealed that Rick Santorum’s strong appeal to social conservatives transcends regional differences, as does Mitt Romney’s reliance on rich voters.

In Mississippi, Santorum won a narrow plurality of evangelicals (35%, compared to Gingrich’s 32% and Romney’s 29%). It broke down almost identically in Alabama, where Santorum, Gingrich and Romney respectively winning 35%, 32% and 27% of evangelicals.

However, Santorum won voters who said candidates’ religious beliefs “matter a great deal” by 15 percentage points in Mississippi and 16 percentage points in Alabama. He also earned support from a whopping 65% of Mississippi voters and 61% of Alabama voters who said “strong moral character” was the most important candidate quality. And once again, Santorum was the runaway favorite among voters who believe abortion should always be illegal.

Once again, Romney’s strongest support came from the wealthy, winning among voters who make over $100k/yr in both Alabama in Mississippi, but coming in third among voters who make less than $50k/yr.

Given that 80% of primary voters in Mississippi and 75% of primary voters in Alabama are evangelical, and that only one quarter of voters in these states had six-figure incomes, Santorum’s victories should hardly have come as a surprise.

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