Monday, November 23, 2015

Last Call For The Moral (No Longer A) Majority

A new Pew Research study on American religion finds that White Christians are no longer the majority, and those who are increasingly identify with the Republican party.

As the na­tion re­lent­lessly di­ver­si­fies, both in its ra­cial com­pos­i­tion and re­li­gious pref­er­ences, White Chris­ti­ans now rep­res­ent just 46 per­cent of Amer­ic­an adults, ac­cord­ing to Pew data provided in re­sponse to a re­quest from Next Amer­ica. That’s down from a 55 per­cent ma­jor­ity as re­cently as 2007, and much high­er fig­ures through most of U.S. his­tory.

Yet even as White Chris­ti­ans shrink in their over­all num­bers, they still ac­count for nearly sev­en-in-10 Amer­ic­ans who identi­fy with, or lean to­ward, the Re­pub­lic­an Party, the Pew study found. White Chris­ti­ans, in fact, rep­res­ent as large a share of the Re­pub­lic­an co­ali­tion today as they did of Amer­ic­an so­ci­ety over­all in 1984, when Ron­ald Re­agan won reelec­tion. A clear ma­jor­ity of all White Chris­ti­ans across the United States now identi­fy as Re­pub­lic­an, Pew found.

In sharp con­trast, the Pew data show, the Demo­crat­ic co­ali­tion has evolved in­to a three-legged stool that di­vides al­most evenly between White Chris­ti­ans, non-White Chris­ti­ans, and those from all races who identi­fy either with a non-Chris­ti­an faith or, in­creas­ingly, with no re­li­gious tra­di­tion at all. Most Amer­ic­ans who don’t identi­fy with any re­li­gious faith—a rap­idly grow­ing group—now align with Demo­crats.

These di­ver­ging pro­files cre­ate elect­or­al chal­lenges for each side. Re­pub­lic­ans face the ten­sion of bal­an­cing the mor­ally con­ser­vat­ive pref­er­ences of their re­li­giously de­vout base with the deep­en­ing in­stinct to­ward cul­tur­al tol­er­ance of a so­ci­ety that is grow­ing more sec­u­lar, par­tic­u­larly among the young.

Demo­crats must weigh the cul­tur­ally lib­er­al in­stincts of their now mostly sec­u­lar wing of up­scale Whites with the of­ten more tra­di­tion­al in­clin­a­tions of their Afric­an-Amer­ic­an and Latino sup­port­ers, who are much more likely than White Demo­crats to identi­fy with Chris­ti­an faiths. In a land­mark shift, few­er than half of White Demo­crats with a col­lege de­gree now identi­fy as Chris­ti­ans; that’s a much smal­ler per­cent­age than among the party’s Blacks and Lati­nos.

Above all, the end of ma­jor­ity status for White Chris­ti­ans marks an­oth­er mile­stone in Amer­ica’s trans­form­a­tion in­to a kal­eido­scope so­ci­ety with no single dom­in­ant group.

For 230 plus years this has been a country dominated by white Christians.  That is no longer the case., whether the reason is a truly growing secular population, growth of religions outside Christianity, or a borderline White Christian nation with people who finally feel alright to mention they are not religious at all...or all three.

All three represent a threat to the GOP, and they know it.

In 1944, polls showed that White Chris­ti­ans ac­coun­ted for more than eight-in-10 Amer­ic­an adults, notes John C. Green, an ex­pert on re­li­gion and polit­ics and dean of the col­lege of arts and sci­ences at the Uni­versity of Ak­ron. Sur­veys found that num­ber de­clined only slightly, to just un­der eight-in-10, by 1964. Even in 1984, White Chris­ti­ans still ac­coun­ted for just un­der sev­en-in-10 Amer­ic­an adults. The an­nu­al merge of res­ults from oth­er na­tion­al sur­veys con­duc­ted by Pew, though not dir­ectly com­par­able with the huge Re­li­gious Land­scape poll, sug­gest that White Chris­ti­ans dipped be­low ma­jor­ity status some­time between 2012 and 2013. The latest fig­ures pla­cing White Chris­ti­ans at just 46 per­cent of the adult pop­u­la­tion con­firm a trend, Green says, in which “the re­l­at­ive size of White Chris­ti­ans [has] fallen at an in­creas­ing rate over the post-W.W. II peri­od.

Going from 68% to 46% in 30 years is a major change for "first black president" and possibly "first woman president" level change.

Both parties will need to adapt.  One party however has clearly decided to try to go backwards.

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