Monday, April 27, 2009

Religion and Political Shifts

From The Secular Humanist (paraphrased):

Atheists/agnostics are now 18% of U.S. voters, trending center-left and libertarian. "The non-religious are most likely to live in Purple Districts" a study found. Church attendance is equated with "social conservative" in the U.S., but used to be "liberal" (1920s-40s Social Gospel movement). The "far left" is now more likely to be "alternatively spiritual" -- Wicca? Druid? Marxist-Wiccanism. Who knew? I was struck by this finding.
Therefore, the two major parties need to pay attention to the non-religious if they want to win future elections. Self-identified "Spiritual and/or religious" people occupy the two political extremes, with some notable exceptions.
Yes, there are progressive atheists, but I think many of these are what the author would group with social democrats, not radical socialists or Marxists. Apparently, there are a lot of New Age people on the far left. That would match my own experiences. The "radicals" I know who protested in the 1960s and early 70s are into alternative religious beliefs.
From the L.A. Times:
In 2008, some 12% of the electorate -- or 15 million voters -- identified themselves as nonbelievers. That's bigger than the Latino vote (9%), the gay vote (4%), or the Jewish vote (2%), and it's competitive with the African American vote (13%).
From Science Blogs:
Officially Atheistic

Nations are Socially Conservative
It is true that there is a robust relationship between atheism and liberalism in the United States, the problem I have, as an admittedly illiberal atheist, are those who believe that atheism entails liberalism. In a specific instance I have encountered secular proponents of abortion rights and gay marriage who simply find it hard to conceive that someone would have reasoned objections to these policy positions which were not fundamentally rooted in religion. A cursory examination of the treatment of homosexuals in Cuban or the old East Germany would show religion is not necessary for intolerance of homosexual behavior.
The Science Blog includes data from the World Values Survey, 2008, and finds that:

it is important to note there are societies which are both far more secular than the United States, and more socially conservative: those of East Asia.
Nations that are officially Catholic were found to be among the most tolerant and socially liberal (Portugal and Spain, for example), while Eastern Europe remained socially conservative, even though religion remains "slightly" or "minimally" important to most residents of these nations.

Leninism's notion that "imperfect" people should be removed from society? We know what is "optimal" and "logical" is not always ethical.

Personally, I'm merely a radical moderate reading the trends, wondering what they might portend for the major U.S. political parties. I have learned you cannot predict shifts in the electorate more than a year or two beyond the present.

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