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Aug 25 2011

The Politics Of Religious Identity

The majority of Christians have no beef with evolution;
They are perfectly accepting of the facts.
They may say, “it’s how God did it”; it’s an elegant solution,
And it’s how the sane majority reacts.

But it puzzles me immensely that so many are aligning
With the anti-science faction on their fringe
Who use Genesis as text to show the fact of God’s designing
Though their evidence and logic make one cringe

And despite their disagreement over how to read the Bible,
Over teaching it as science in our schools,
The majority stays silent. I suspect it might be tribal,
And “protect your own” is chief among the rules.

With beliefs in disagreement, but “we’re Christians” all the same
It’s the labels now determining the roles
So they vote against their interests, and it really is a shame
When it’s “onward, Christian soldiers” to the polls.

With the one nominally pro-science Republican candidate now polling at about 1%, behind a herd of creationists, I begin to doubt the surveys that say biblical literalism is a tenet of a very small fraction of Christians. Of course, in a Venn diagram, that small fraction nicely overlaps the most likely voters in the Republican base, so if unlikely voters are also unlikely to talk to pollsters (I love talking to them. I ask them questions.), the polls are likely to be extremely biased at this point.

I hope that is the case. If the polls are representative, then an awful lot of people are currently planning to vote against the things they themselves believe. Why? Perhaps because they label themselves “christians” before they label themselves pro-education, or rational, or independent, or whatever. As vastly different as two people might be, as vastly different as their belief systems might be, if they both identify first as “christian”, a creationist has a foot in the door. Throw in years of identity politics and punditry, and well-educated people will vote against their interests, and against the interest of the country.

3 comments

  1. 1
    Reginald Selkirk

    I begin to doubt the surveys that say biblical literalism is a tenet of a very small fraction of Christians.

    Huh? What surveys are those? Polls typically show believe in Young Earth Creationism at aroun 40-50%, such as this December 2010 Gallup poll. Atheists are more prone to believe in evolution, but are probably < 10% of the populace. Christianity is by far the majority religion. Therefore I would put the number of Christians who believe in YEC at around half.

  2. 2
    Joan

    “Throw in years of identity politics and punditry, and well-educated people will vote against their interests, and against the interest of the country.”

    Which is exactly what they have been doing, ever since Reagan if they were alive then. Even the painfully recent horrors of the Dubya debacle have not rattled them. The economic disaster of 2 wars coupled with tax cuts and no banking oversight has been creatively flipped into O’s lap. Now it’s his stimulus package and apparently the not really what he ordered health care plan, along with those evil teacher’s union benefits that are bankrupting our country.

    Don’t look for rationality. There is anger and ignorance of the basic facts to be mined, and the Right knows the right stuff to do it. The Elmer Gantry’s of manipulation rage on. The never to be resolved abortion angle may have been supplanted temporarily by the anti-gay ‘anything’ angle, but it works. Again and again and again. Nothing has changed but the enormity of the swindle since Frank wrote “What’s the Matter With Kansas?”. Formerly, they tossed aside the religious vote-getting mantras as soon as they were elected, but with this newer wackier set of candidates, we just might end up broke and living in a theocracy. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

  3. 3
    F

    One can only hope that we will reach, or attempt to engineer, a breaking point where decent christians stop identifying with the evil christians and the sorts of ideas to which they subscribe. It’s all just fear-based medicine, but I don’t expect much. What I do expect is for humans, as groups, to continue to be stupid. Which is why the reactions to plane-as-a-missile terrorists was so predictable.

    All I really hope for is acclimatization to rationality at some point, and that it will last for a few generations.

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