Religious Left Emerges, Religious Right Erodes

15 11 2009

From my hometown newspaper this morning at the heart of Gator Nation, in the South! — even though it’s something I can be proud of this time rather than apologize for, like what passes for good communal citizenship just down the road from UF, in a giant corporate enclave of relatively wealthy, morally pious old folks called the Villages.

UF study: Religious left emerging to oppose right

Research shows growing influence of liberal Christians in politics.

By Nathan Crabbe
Staff writer

A new University of Florida study finds the religious left is emerging as an alternative to the Christian right.

Gainesville can be seen as a leading indicator of the trend. Faith-based liberal activism has long been a community tradition, from advocacy for the homeless to protests of executions.

“This is a town where there is certainly a religious left,” said UF political science professor Ken Wald, who collaborated with two other researchers on the study.

The research found that Christians who value being active members of a religious community tended to vote for Democratic candidates in 2006 and 2008. The research contradicts the “God gap” theory that white religious Christians are conservative and likely to vote Republican, Wald said.

He said the religious left is becoming more influential with the election of Barack Obama and his experience in community organizing and expansion of a White House office on faith-based initiatives. At the same time, Wald said, young evangelicals are placing more emphasis on traditionally liberal issues such as addressing climate change.

“I think you’re seeing the religious right erode a bit, and at the same time the religious left gets more aggressive,” Wald said.

In case you weren’t riveted to Snook’s comments this weekend, a discussion of Catholic homeless and soup kitchen services sprang up here, debating the social effects of believing in the higher moral authority of “church doctrine” that would refuse help to those living in sin. This story adds texture to Read the rest of this entry »