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Author: Fewer Americans voting with religion in mind


Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 08/04/16

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From Katherine Ozment in The Boston Globe:

The most disturbing of the leaked e-mails from the Democratic National Committee is the one suggesting that Bernie Sanders’s supposed atheism could be used to Hillary Clinton’s advantage. “Does [Sanders] believe in a God,” a DNC executive asks. “He had skated on saying he has a Jewish heritage. I think I read he is an atheist. This could make several points difference with my peeps.” The top staffer’s peeps aside, for the growing ranks of nonreligious voters in this country, the biggest question isn’t how the DNC could so clearly favor one candidate over another in the primaries. Instead, it’s “What’s so bad about being an atheist?” While millions of people across the United States have left their faith traditions behind, our political displays still seem stuck in a time when people were afraid to confess that they don’t believe in God or go to church. Every political candidate has to run the tired “How religious are you?” gantlet. Sanders, a non-practicing Jew who in the past has told reporters that he doesn’t care for organized religion, had to clarify his position once his presidential campaign gained traction, saying his faith was a “guiding principle” of his life and that he had “very strong religious and spiritual feelings.” Clinton is known to confirm her Methodist street cred, tossing out references to John Wesley to assure voters she’s a practicing Christian. Even Donald Trump has professed his religiosity, prompting evangelical leader James Dobson to dub him a “baby Christian.” But such “come-to-Jesus” moments on the campaign trail have begun to feel pro forma, a vestige of presidential campaigns in which “owing it all to Jesus” (and it has always been Jesus, since we’ve never had president who wasn’t steeped in Christianity, regardless of whether or not he wholly embraced it) was one of the main requirements to gaining entry to the Oval Office. And yet, this time, Americans chose three primary candidates who don’t seem all that comfortable being outwardly religious, a sign of how the voters — if not their politicians — are beginning to move away from all that.

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