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.
Research shows growing influence of liberal Christians in politics.
By Nathan Crabbe
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 that question:
. . .The Interfaith Hospitality Network of Gainesville is a coalition of churches providing shelter and services to the homeless. Gainesville’s St. Augustine Church and its Catholic Student Center also have had a long involvement in helping the homeless, work that led to the establishment of the St. Francis House homeless shelter and soup kitchen.
The Gainesville Catholic Worker house also provides meals for the homeless and does other projects. The house follows in the Catholic Worker Movement’s tradition of providing social services for the poor.
Wald’s research found Roman Catholics and members of some Protestant denominations such as the United Church of Christ placed a value on communal worship and tended to be politically liberal. Previously, polls included only measurements in which conservative evangelicals scored more highly such as frequency of prayer and Scripture reading.
Wald said broadening the questions in polls more fully reflects the diversity of religious and political beliefs.
“There are different ways of being religious,” he said.
Finally, all the post discussions on “individual and institution” may shed new light viewed through this prism. The Catholic Church for example is like the institution of home education, diverse ideas that form practices and identity and then fodder for food fights. 😉
Start here if you want, or maybe here:
WARP and WOOF: Reading the Weave of Individual and Institution