In recent national elections, pundits and worse have paid lots of attention to how people of faith have voted.
Some of this analysis is interesting and even useful, but the reality is that most large religious groups -- such as Catholics, Protestants, Jews -- are politically divided. Heck, in my own Presbyterian congregation you'll find people who differ profoundly about many political matters.
And yet the fascination remains and the efforts continue to try to describe where this or that faith community fits on this or that political scale.
You can read about the latest example here. The story describes how someone at Religion News Service, using Pew research about America's religious landscape, has created a graphic (pictured here) that tries to describe the political beliefs of religious folks when it comes to two policy questions that have to do with how much the government should be involved in the economy and how much in morality.
I know that the graphic here is hard to read, but if you click on the link to the story and then, within that story, click on that graphic, it will take you to a considerably enhanced version that you can puzzle over.
I'm not quite sure what the value of this chart is yet and whether it will be enlightening either to people of faith or to politicians trying to curry favor among such folks. My guess is that the information it contains has been abstracted from abstracted information that itself was abstracted from some other abstraction. So, in the end, its connection to reality is pretty tenuous.
But if you see some astonishingly helpful insight in all of this that you think I've missed, let me know. I'm happy to be educated. Perhaps it's enough that the political world still cares what the religious world thinks.
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THE PART RELIGION PLAYS
To grasp developments in today's world, you simply have to understand what role religion plays in various parts of the world. That's the wise point made in this piece, which I commend to you. It simply won't do to view the world through Western secular eyes alone.