24 February 2016

Your Religious Beliefs Are Predictive Of Your Partisan Leanings

Data above, which was collected by the Pew Foundation, recounts the partisan political preferences of Americans by religious denomination (Hat Tip to Fully Myelinated). The overall pattern is predictable, although there is some overlap at the edges.

From most Republican to most Democratic the major categories are:

1.  Mormons
2.  Historically white Evangelical Christian (and conservative liturgical Christian denominations).
3.  Mainline Christian Denominations.
4.  Roman Catholics (Catholics, the largest denomination, are a close match to the U.S. as a whole).
5.  Orthodox Christians.
6.  Non-Christians.
7.  Historically black Christian denominations.

Many of the conservative liturgical Christian denominations split from their mainline counterparts around the time of the U.S. Civil War over the social issues of that day such as slavery and women's righta.

The exceptions are as follows:

* Seventh-Day Adventists, an Evangelical denomination, are as left leaning as Orthodox Christians on average.

* Jehovah's Witnesses , an Evangelical denomination, rates as slightly more left leaning than Orthodox Christians.  But, this is largely a function of the fact that 75% of the conservative Christian denomination does not claim a partisan political denomination and generally does not participate in electoral politics.

Notably, both Seventh-Day Adventists and Jehovah's Witnesses reject much of the liturgical and non-scriptural core of Christianity in favor of Jewish and secular alternatives respectively.  This may be a factor that causes members of these denominations to have a political identity closer to non-Christians.

Also, both Seventh-Day Adventists and Jehovah's Witnesses, while they are historically white Christina denominations, are currently among the most racially diverse Christian denomination in the United States and have become much more diverse than they were in the recent past.  Seventh-Day Adventists are 59% non-white (and exemplified by Seventh-Day Adventist Presidential candidate Ben Carson).  Jehovah's Witnesses are 64% non-white.

* The United Methodist Church, a mainline Christian denomination, is well into the Evangelical range.  This mostly reflects its strength in historically conservative rural and small town America, particularly in the South, Midwest and on the Great Plains.

* Two mainline Christian denominations (Episcopalians and the United Church of Christ) are more Democratic leaning than the Roman Catholic Church.

One subtle point is that both Episcopalians and Anglicans are part of the global Anglican communion.  Episcopalians are part of the American branch of that denomination.  Anglicans are members of one of the minority of U.S. congregations of the African branch of that denomination that have deliberately changed their affiliation from the Episcopalian branch of the denomination because they opposed the socially liberal doctrines and polices that it has adopted.  If Episcopalians and Anglicans were pooled and counted as a single denomination, the combined denomination would probably be slightly more Republican leaning than the Roman Catholic Church, just like most other mainline Christian denominations.  The departure of the Anglican congregations in recent years has artificially moved the Episcopal denomination to the left.

The United Church of Christ and the Unitarian Church, prior to its merger with the Universalist Church in the 1960s to form the current denomination which is a post-Christian one, are the main successor denominations to the established Congregational Churches of New England, many of which were doctrinally Unitarian.  The United Church of Christ is trinitarian, but carries over the liberal leanings of the former Congregational Church.  (Ironically, the Mormon church also has historical roots mostly in New England.)

* The Unitarian Universalist church which is basically post-Christian although a minority of the members of the denomination identify as Unitarian Christians, is more left leaning than one of the three historically black Christian denominations.

No comments: