An against-the-grain story about a surprising poll from the New York Times.
The Pew Research Center reported Monday that 72 percent of Americans believe religion is losing its influence on American life, a striking development in a nation where religious arguments, religious leaders and religious voting blocs have long played an important role.
While the declining influence of religion is, perhaps, a natural side effect of the declining religiosity of Americans, more surprising is that as religion fades in American culture, many Americans regret its receding role in politics.
Nearly half of Americans — 49 percent, to be precise — say houses of worship should express their views on social and political questions, up 6 points since the 2010 midterm elections. And 32 percent — a rising minority — say houses of worship should endorse candidates, which is currently illegal.
It’s illegal, but you’ll see it happen in black churches every single election year.
And that’s perfectly fine with me. It shouldn’t be illegal. Churches should have more freedom, not less, to weigh in on the culture and issues in society. If that means endorsing or rejecting specific candidates and parties, so be it.
The fact is, politics is warfare by other means, and it’s also an expression of morality and beliefs by means other than sermons and songs in church.
Of course, the fact that 49% want churches to be more vocal means that a nearly equal number want the exact opposite. The Pew poll finds that it’s 49-48 to the yes, which is well within any margin of error.
We’re a divided nation on morality. Politics is an expression of that division.
Other key findings of the poll: Support for allowing gay men and lesbians to marry has dropped to 49 percent, down from 54 percent in February, and 50 percent say it is a sin to engage in homosexual behavior, up from 45 percent last year. Only 30 percent of Americans now see the Obama administration as friendly toward religion, down 9 points since 2012.
Materialism, entertainment, sports, personal success, even family achievements do not, ultimately, fulfill that God-shaped hole that most of us have. It only makes sense that millions want faith to have a prominent place in our national family life. What doesn’t make sense at all, is one party becoming the chief antagonist for those of traditional faith. But that’s very much where we are.