The Democrats’ religion problem

12522034864_d0253b3da9_zMichael Wear is a pro-life evangelical Christian who was a staffer for Barack Obama, helping him reach faith groups in 2012.  He is now criticizing his fellow Democrats for writing off Christians.

Emma Green, writing in the Atlantic, interviews him about his new book on the subject  and about why the Democratic party as a whole has become so antagonistic to religious people, something that did not used to be the case and something that will continue to limit the party’s prospects in this still very religious nation. [Read more…]

Top religion stories of 2016

Wikipedia_Wordle_-_ReligionThe Religion News Association announced its top 10 religion stories of 2016.  Number one:  Donald Trump’s election.

Why was that a religion story?  An important factor in Trump’s win was his support from evangelical voters, even though his lifestyle, moral history, and religious beliefs would not seem to be in accord with those of most Christian conservatives.

What this means, though, is less clear.  Does this mean Christian voters have sold out, or have they become pragmatic in choosing a candidate whom they expect to advance their pro-life and religious liberty agenda instead of insisting on total agreement?  Have evangelicals regained their political clout, or have they lost it, since candidates know they will vote for the Republican no matter what?

After the jump, a list of the top 10 stories, plus links to two other religion top 10 lists.  (They all agree on #1.)

What do you think should be on the list?

Ceremonial Deism

5770-a-house-with-christmas-lights-at-night-pvThe Supreme Court ruled in 1984 that Nativity scenes in publicly-owned spaces are legal.  As long as they don’t mean anything.  Hillsdale Sophomore Nic Rowan writing in the Federalist sees this as an example of “ceremonial deism.”

After the jump, read his argument and my thoughts on the matter.
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Hotels without Gideon Bibles

Bible_bom_hotel_rmThe Gideons do great work in distributing Bibles.  For many decades, virtually every hotel room had a Gideon Bible on the nightstand or in a drawer.  But today, less than half do.

A survey has found that only 46% of American hotel rooms include religious material.  Ten years ago, nearly three-quarters did.

Of course, what the Christian Gideons did, representatives of other religions did.  Hotels that have Bibles in the rooms often also have Books of Mormon.  I suspect that the decline of hotel Bibles has less to do with irreligion than with the abundance of religions and with hotel managers’ fear of offending against the canons of religious diversity.

Donald Trump’s hotel in Washington does have Bibles. But they come with a printed note saying that “if you want to continue your spiritual journey,” the hotel staff will give you a copy of the Bhagavad Gita, Talmud, or Quran.

[Read more…]

Democrats lost because they raised religious liberty fears

2519766036_d988be0058_zThe reason the Democrats lost, argues David Bernstein in the Washington Post, is that their words, actions, and policies made large numbers of Christians afraid that their religious liberty is in jeopardy.  So even though they had major qualms about Donald Trump, they voted for him in large enough numbers to give him the victory.

Bernstein’s point, I believe, is that Democrats wouldn’t have to threaten religious liberty to meet their major policy goals.  The country could have gay marriage without punishing those who don’t believe in it.  The country could have legalized and insurance-subsidized abortion without making religious people pay for it.  LGBT folks could have legal rights and find acceptance–probably more acceptance– even if they made some accommodation to religious sensitivities.  And yet, Democrats threatened and demonized Christians, oblivious to the fact that this meant that a very  large percentage of the American public would not be voting for them.

Read Bernstein’s analysis after the jump.  Is he describing you? [Read more…]

How much money do people in different churches make?

This is an unspiritual topic that is none of our business and appeals only to our morbid curiosity.  The Pew Research Center has released findings about the income levels in different religious groups.  (Not just churches but religions and no-religions.)

It’s notable, for one thing, in including the Lutheran Church Missouri-Synod separately, unlike most polls that group us into categories that we have little affinity with.

Go here to see the chart:  How income varies among U.S. religious groups | Pew Research Center.

I have a few comments after the jump and then I’ll invite yours. [Read more…]