Five members of the U.S House of Representatives (Jared Huffman (D-CA), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Jerry McNerney (D-CA), Dan Kildee (D-MI), and Pramila Jayapal (D-WA)) have joined a newly formed caucus.
Flashback Friday (FF) is a category of posts previously published elsewhere that still have some contemporary relevance. This FF post was originally published on April 25, 2013 in the PRRI blog.
Yesterday, the Rhode Island State Senate voted to legalize same-sex marriage. The bill now returns to the State House of Representatives, which already voted in favor of a similar bill. Independent Governor Lincoln Chafee, a former Republican U.S. Senator, is expected to sign the bill into law once it reaches his office.
If and when Rhode Island finally codifies same-sex marriage into law, it will make New England the first region in the country where all states have legalized marriage for gay and lesbian couples. According to PRRI’s recent survey, a slim majority of American (52%) favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally. However, in New England, support increases to 7-in-10 (70%) residents. This high level of support may be related to the concentration of the religious groups most likely to favor same-sex marriage in the region.
New England has a low percentage of groups opposed to same-sex marriage. Only 7% of New Englanders identify as white evangelical Protestants, compared to nearly 1-in-5 (18%) Americans overall. Only 24% of white evangelicals favor same-sex marriage (71% are opposed). Black Protestants, who also oppose same-sex marriage (37% favor, 57% oppose), are also underrepresented in New England compared to the national population (3% vs. 8%). Instead, Catholics (30%), mainline Protestants (22%), and Jews (6%) are overrepresented among New Englanders, and majorities of these groups favor same-sex marriage (57%, 55%, and 81%, respectively). In addition, 1-in-5 (21%) New England residents are religiously unaffiliated, a figure that’s similar to the rest of the country. More than three-quarters (76%) of religiously unaffiliated Americans favor same-sex marriage.
Massachusetts was the first New England state to approve same-sex marriage in 2004. It was later joined by Connecticut (2008), Vermont (2009), New Hampshire (2010), and Maine, which is one of the three states that extended marriage rights for same-sex couples through referendum last November.
On my post “The Nones are Causing the White Evangelical Aging Crisis” I wrote:
I guess they [younger people] are leaving [evangelical churches] more because of politics than theology, while the older folk are leaving due to theology. Why do I think this? Because the political differences between white evangelicals and former white evangelicals are wider among people who left religion than people who switched congregations.
A new research paper by Paul A. Djupe, Jacob R. Neiheisel, and Kimberly H. Conger shows that in states with anti-gay rights policies, the nones increased more rapidly. Abstract below
Hout and Fischer have made the repeated, controversial claim that the dramatic rise of “religious nones” in the United States is due to the prominence of the politics of the Christian Right. As the argument goes, the movement’s extreme stands on gay rights and abortion make religion inhospitable to those who take more moderate and liberal positions. We take another look at this proposition with novel data drawing on expert reports and interest group counts that capture the prominence of the movement in each American state from 2000 to 2010. We attach these data to decennial religious census data on the unchurched, as well as estimates of the nones from Cooperative Congressional Election Study data. At stake is whether religion is independent of political influence and whether American religion is sowing its own fate by failing to limit taking extreme stands. Rising none rates are more common in Republican states in this period. Moreover, when the Christian Right comes into more public conflict, such as over same-sex marriage bans, the rate of religious nones climbs.
This paper is very useful for understanding how politics affects religious identification. Alas, it doesn’t answer (and it wasn’t its goal to do so) the larger question about the religious beliefs of people who move toward no-identification. I think people, particularly young people, who become nonreligious and come from a conservative Christian background leave religion because of doubts about the veracity of religious beliefs than political matters. Otherwise they would join or start to identify with a more liberal Christian tradition.
Jeet Heer writes that the Republican Party, not Donald Trump, is the real threat to American democracy. He argues that Trump is a symptom of a larger problem within the GOP. As he puts it:
But one institution has sorely failed in its constitutional duty to restrain the president. Time and again, the Republican-controlled Congress has ignored, defended, or outright enabled Trump’s authoritarian excesses.
I don’t think he’s wrong in this analysis but I think focusing solely on the GOP electeds’ indifference toward Trump’s authoritarian impulses minimizes the role conservative media plays in shaping the Party’s agenda. Heer mentions that the conservative media has “a profound influence” on the Party, but I think that’s an understatement.
Conservative media leaves in a conspiracy bubble. Its success depends on profits and those profits depend on viewers, listeners, and readers coming back. Reality is warped to the extent that even when the Republican Party controls the White House, both branches of Congress, and a majority of state governments, they still act as if they a persecuted minority. This warped reality has reached now ridiculous heights. Institutions conservatives normally love like the FBI and the CIA are under attack as part of a “deep state” conspiracy.
Trump is not just the de facto leader of the GOP; he’s also an avid consumer of conservative media. He is the poster boy of conservative news consumers: a white, male Boomer with too much time in his hands. Many of the members of his administration come from that media ecosystem. Understanding the current GOP means understanding how Fox News, Breitbart, and the like have monetized outrage to the extent that an organization at the peak of its political power believes it is the underdog.
From the Archives (FTA) is a category of posts previously published at The Latinone that still have some contemporary relevance. This FTA post was originally published on July 12, 2017.
A new Gallup Poll finds that confidence in the police is returning to its historical average, something that does not bode well for any type of reform of police practices. According to Gallup:
Confidence in police … dropped to a record-tying low of 52% in June 2015, as the Black Lives Matter movement gained national attention with a series of protests against police shootings of unarmed blacks in New York City; Ferguson, Missouri; and North Charleston, South Carolina. (Emphasis mine)
Two years ago confidence dropped as some people started realizing that maybe, just maybe police forces should be held to some sort of accountability. But not anymore. After Trump’s victory and the confirmation of former Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney General in the new administration has restored the confidence in the police among certain types. You know the types. Gallup gives a snapshot of who they are.
Confidence among Republicans and Republican leaners, whites, conservatives and those aged 55 or older has been stable or has increased slightly.
That’s not the case among young people, particularly those who are people of color as this table published by Gallup shows.
Confidence among conservatives has increased since 2015. Basically when confidence was dropping nationally because the reports of abuse were being documented in film, conservatives decided that shooting unarmed black people is what police should be doing.
Gallup further reports that in the June 2017 survey they base most of their analysis on, conservative confidence in the police is 73 percent, the highest it has been since 2000. Not surprisingly, an era where mass incarceration and abuse was reaching its apex and the type of policies that AG Sessions wants to return to. Since the only institutions conservatives have more confidence on are the military and businesses, we can be pretty confident that they are pretty cool with fascism as well.
An excellent piece by Jeet Heer at The New Republic explores House Minority Leader (and former-and perhaps future-Speaker) Nancy Pelosi as the main obsession of GOP candidates in Congressional races. Below my favorite quote of the article, which somehow mirrors some of my thoughts on Pelosi.
Thomas Mann, of the Brookings Institution, has hailed her as the “strongest and most effective speaker of modern times” because of her success in securing stimulus funding in 2009 and overseeing the passage of the Affordable Care Act the following year. As Peter Beinart pointed out in this month’s Atlantic, “even after being relegated to minority leader when Republicans took the House in 2010, she kept winning legislative fights. In the summer of 2015, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the Republican Party launched a mammoth lobbying campaign to kill Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran. Pelosi quickly secured the votes to prevent Republicans from overturning the agreement, thus checkmating the deal’s foes.”
That’s one of the reasons why Rep. Pelosi is so despised by the Right: she’s been quite good at her job if the job is defined by passing legislation. The article also touches on the fundamental misogyny of the GOP, not just in having the sexual harasser-in-chief as President, but as the Party that has very few women in their electeds’ ranks. But I will append that the Pelosi Derangement Syndrome is also the result of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton being out of the scene. There’s no other visible leader in the Democratic Party to try to hitch to the Party’s current crop of candidates.
Pelosi is a divisive figure even in the Democratic Party, where only half of voters have a favorable opinion of her and one-quarter have an unfavorable opinion, per the article. I personally think she should step down soon because the Democratic Party needs new blood. It doesn;t stop wih her, people ly Rep. Steny Hoyer should also get the boot sooner than later. However, I cringe when I hear a fellow Democrat, as some have told me recently, that Nancy Pelosi should retire “so the GOP has on one to attack.” Apparently the GOP attacks on Pelosi are all her fault, and the Republican Party will find no faults in whoever ends up succeeding her.
For more information read: The Nones are Causing the White Evangelical Aging Crisis.
A recent piece in Newsweek about”President” Trump’s high approval levels with white evangelical Protestants highlights a problem in that community: they are not getting any younger. According to the article, current surveys find that white evangelicals are older than the general population. That makes sense since whites are generally older than the overall U.S. population. The article also states that young people are leaving over issues of same-sex marriage and the role of science. However, the story is more complex. Two big cohorts are leaving white evangelical churches, and they are quite different.
According to the 2014 Pew Landscape survey, 29 percent of white Americans are evangelical Protestants, and 10 percent are former evangelical Protestants. So, who is leaving? About 4-in-10 of those who have left the faith became nones, and about 4-in-10 joined mainline Protestant churches. This is an important fact left out of the Newsweek article. Many white people are not just leaving their own churches, they are leaving religion altogether. But, do those joining mainline churches and those becoming nones have the same profile?
Let’s look first at their age profile. The 2014 Pew poll finds that 49 percent of whites are under the age of 50, similar to the 46 percent of evangelicals in that age cohort. However, 59 percent of former evangelicals joining mainline denominations are over 50 years old. By contrast, more than two-thirds (68 percent) of the former white evangelicals who are now nones are under 50.
Indeed, among whites under 30 who have left evangelical denominations, those who became nones outnumber those who became mainline Protestants by nearly 3-to-1 (29 percent vs. 10 percent). The proportion of young former white evangelicals who are now non-religious is nearly double of actual white evangelicals under 30 (29 percent vs. 15 percent).
Are all these people leaving over the treatment of LGBTQ people and science? There’s some truth to that. Only 28 percent of white evangelicals in 2014 favored same-sex marriage. Among those who left and became mainline Protestants, just a plurality (48 percent) reported being in favor of same-sex marriage. Certainly more liberal, but not earth-shattering. Among the former white evangelical who became nones, nearly three-quarters (74 percent) favored same-sex marriage.
A similar pattern occurs with evolution. Nearly four-in-ten (38 percent) of white evangelicals think that “Humans and other living things have evolved over time.” A majority (56 percent) of those who joined mainline churches also agree that humans evolved, while 81 percent of those who became nones accept evolutionary theory.
While these numbers lend some credibility to the idea that people leaving evangelical congregations are doing so over their positions on LGBTQ rights or evolution, I think it is a political matter. If people were leaving their theologically conservative churches over these issues, they would be joining other congregations. Some of that is happening, since many people are switching to, presumably more liberal, mainline churches. That’s certainly the case with the older folk who are leaving evangelical congregations. But why the younger people are leaving organized religion altogheter?
I guess they are leaving more because of politics than theology, while the older folk are leaving due to theology. Why do I think this? Because the political differences between white evangelicals and former white evangelicals are wider among people who left religion than people who switched congregations.
Only 13 percent of white evangelicals and 15 percent of former white evangelicals who are now mainline Protestants identify as liberals. More than one-third (34 percent) of nones who were white evangelicals say they are liberals. While current evangelicals are more than twice as likely to say they are very conservative than former-now-mainline (15 percent vs. 6 percent), they are not very different in the proportion calling themselves just conservative.
The white evangelical “age problem” is mostly driven by young people leaving religion altogether, something that is not clear in the Newsweek piece. But the data shown here also hints at why white evangelical Protestants are so supportive of President Trump. That particular religious cohort is essentially pruning not just those who have stopped trusting religion altogether, but also people who seem to be appalled by anti-science and bigotry. This also means that “true believers” in the President will remain to identify as white evangelicals. The number to watch now is not just the overall white evangelical support for the President, but also if an increase in support is also mixed with a shrinking cohort.
If I have time, in a future post will be interesting to explore the educational profile of whites who remain Christian but are leaving their evangelical faith behind and how it compares to those remaining in the cohort.
On Saturday I gave a talk titled “Immigration Justice for Immigrants” at the 2018 Secular Social Justice conference in Washington, DC. When the video is finally up, I’ll post it here. But, one thing that I noticed after I finished was that people were surprised about the number of immigrants in the secular cohort.
I mentioned that 13 percent of nonreligious people in the United States are immigrants, while a nearly identical percentage (12 percent) are children of immigrants (2nd generation). These numbers come from the 2014 Pew Religious Landscape Survey.
I added those numbers to my presentation because I actually didn’t expect that the secular community would have more immigrants and children of immigrants in their midst than evangelical Christians.
For ages, the media narrative has been that Latinos and Asian Americans are joining evangelical denominations and changing the demographic landscape of evangelicalism. Yet, only 9 percent are immigrants while 7 percent are children of immigrants.
Next time you think issues of immigration have nothing to do with the secular community remember that about 7 million of the roughly 59 million nones in the country are immigrants. Fighting for immigrant justice is not just one remote feel-good human rights issue. We’re fighting for our own.
If you’re in the DC area on April 7, head down to All Souls Church for the Secular Social Justice conference.
There’s going to be an amazing lineup of speakers (and me).
Starts at 9:00 am.