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View Diary: Is There a Christian Nationalist Majority in America? (167 comments)

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    •  in other words, Americans n/t (10+ / 0-)

      Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

      by corvo on Wed Aug 14, 2013 at 08:35:42 PM PDT

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    •  Bleh... (6+ / 0-)

      You would probably also get high numbers if you asked :

      - "Did  the Constitution establish the U.S. as a Muslim nation?"
      - "Did  the Constitution establish the U.S. as a Jewish nation?"
      - "Did  the Constitution establish the U.S. as an Atheist nation?"
      - "Did  the Constitution establish the U.S. as a bacon-eating nation?"
      - Etc.

      Not 51% but I wouldn't be surprised if you got high twenty something percent for each question. And quite a few respondents would give a positive answer to each and every question.

      Those polls are pretty much worthless, especially for loaded subjects like religion, about which there exists strong rote biases (like faith being a good thing in and by itself, which is a very common trope).

      Those polls would only be valid if they asked the question in at least four different forms, two forms with opposite meaning but both framed in positive terms, and two forms with opposite meaning but both framed in negative terms. It's needed to control for cultural and behavioral biases and for, well, basic language comprehension.

      Preferably, all four forms of the question would be submitted to each respondent, possibly mixed with other questions so they don't realize they are being asked the same question four times.

      An interesting example of alternate phrasing in polling and psychological surveys was exemplified by Bob  Altemeyer's studies on authoritarian behaviors and personalities.  

      I deal in facts. My friends are few but fast.

      by Farugia on Wed Aug 14, 2013 at 09:50:40 PM PDT

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      •  I concur (8+ / 0-)

        The answers you get for any poll depend a lot on what questions are asked. Ask a leading question, get the answer that respondents were led to.

        •  How you phrase the question is especially key when (3+ / 0-)
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          BlackSheep1, DBunn, Fishtroller01

          using terminology that has more than one meaning.

          "Chrisitian nation" in common Christian usage often means a nation in which Christianity is the majority faith and a strong influence on cultural values.  There certainly are a number of CHristians who believe Christianity was a strong influence in forming traditional American values (including democracy), and should remain a powerful influence.   Certainly FDR, to name one of many historical figures, believed that.  It's not the same as believing that laws should have to fit biblical criteria, or that non-CHristians shouldn't be able to vote, or that Christianity is the only religion of positive value.

          The more extreme Christianists, as I'm sure you know, want the vote limited to Christians.  Or to Christian men who are heads of families.  The Dominionists want rejection of Christianity to be legally defined as heresy, and punishable by death.

          That's quite a range of meanings.

          Asking Americans if the US is a Christian nation is meaningless and really, really  misleading unless the different potential meanings are explored.

           I don't doubt that a (perhaps slim) majority of Americans believe, as was traditionally taught, that Christianity has a special and benevolent role in the history of the US and the development of democratic values (the sanctity of the individual, etc.).  

          That doesn't mean that the majority of Americans are Christian Nationalists or theocrats.

          --------------------- “These are troubling times. Corporation are treated like people. People are treated like things. …And if we ever needed to vote, we sure do need to vote now.” -- Rev. Dr. William J. Barber

          by Fiona West on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 09:21:47 AM PDT

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          •  You don't have to be an extremist (4+ / 0-)
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            DBunn, ScienceMom, Sharoney, WB Reeves

            to believe that only Christians should have the right to vote. The pastor at the church that Cory Booker attends believes that Newark should go back to the good ol' days where you had to be Christian to vote.

            That would be Newark, New Jersey. NOT Texas. Not Idaho. New Jersey!!

            We have to take this seriously. We have to take notice that there are people - many, many people - who really believe that America was "created" to be a Christian Nation (one nation under god, etc) and it is time to reclaim that heritage.

            When we deny this and call these folks nut cases we do so at great risk to our future. It can't happen here? Yes it can!!!

            •  I think that careful polling would show that a (1+ / 0-)
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              very small percentage of Americans agree with that minister.  Probably the majority even in his church don't, on that issue.  Black people are generally touchy about the right to vote.

              Many Christians will tolerate some things that they don't like or believe being preached by their church, basically as a trade-off for the things they actually like and feel committed to.  How successful for instance in the Catholic church in teaching that birth control is sinful?  (Hint: US Catholic women use birth control at virtually the same rate as non-Catholics.)  People pick and choose, even if the hierarchy insists that they aren't allowed to.

              I'd expect more discretion from a would-be political leader, though.  What the hell is Cory Booker doing in that church?

              I do not disagree that the far-right churches are dangerous.  Funded and manipulated by big money through the Republican party and a network of foundations and "missions" and so on, they've done a lot of damage already and can do much more.

              But the polling you're quoting here is too vague to be taken as data.  From my experience, I don't believe that a majority in the US believe the US should be a Christian Nation in the Dominionist sense.  There are still enough Dominionists to be dangerous -- especially if they can influence the teaching of history in schools. Or if they can use the charter school movement to get more public money channeled into their private, anti-American schools.  

              But let's find some better information before deciding they're virtually to the point where they could vote the rest of us out of office.  

              --------------------- “These are troubling times. Corporation are treated like people. People are treated like things. …And if we ever needed to vote, we sure do need to vote now.” -- Rev. Dr. William J. Barber

              by Fiona West on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 06:15:03 PM PDT

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            •  Tha Pastor cannot be pleased (0+ / 0-)

              that Booker supports marriage equality.  Actually, it doesn't concern me too much. Conservative Black preachers are common in Newark. They make a lot of noise. I'm much more concerned with  Booker's Wall Street connections.

              "There ain't no sanity clause." Chico Marx

              by DJ Rix on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 01:11:36 PM PDT

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      •  No. 2% of Americans are Jewish. Less for others... (4+ / 0-)

        ... of other faiths. Actually, non-believers or no adherence to any particular church is the next largest 'religious' group at somewhere between 15% & 20% of Americans.

        •  And we may very well, (3+ / 0-)

          as our numbers grow, provide the best solutions to this problem.  If non-believers, atheists, agnostics, etc. become a significant number and continue to speak out and take a stand on behalf of the ideas that there are no gods in the first place and that religion's reign should wane, the politicians will turn their heads that way. This is just my theory and it's based on the fact that the politicians who are all pushing religion are doing it from a political power concept and not because of personal conviction.

          •  "become a significant number " (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Fishtroller01, artmartin, Noodles

            15 to 20% of the American population seems like quite a significant number of people and potential voters  to me.

            I can see Obama closing verbal presentations with " God Bless America " for its appeal to voters but what I question about is, what is the Democrat Party doing in an organized effort to access that 15 to 20 %, If Anything ?

            •  Obama seems to be doing (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ScienceMom, Calamity Jean

              everything in his power to push away this demographic. Just read my post below about his latest demonstration of ignorance concerning church/state.

            •  You're assuming that said 15-20% is monolithic, (0+ / 0-)

              but it's not.

              Big difference between being a "non-believer" ( funny term, as atheists believe that there are no gods, which is still a belief), and not being enrolled in any particular congregation.

              How many of those 15-20% are Catholics who have left the Church, but still have the dogma internalized? No way to know.

              How many of that 15-20% are following a personal synthetic faith? No way to know.

              I don't think anybody should count on that 15-20% as a voting bloc.

              •  Actually atheists do not believe there are gods (1+ / 0-)
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                It is not a belief system, it is a lack of belief due to no compelling evidence for the existence of gods (for most atheists). To call it a belief system would be the same as saying that people who don't collect stamps participate in a hobby of not collecting stamps.

              •  I think that most of the 15-20% would agree on... (1+ / 0-)
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                ...the point that those trying to establish changes in law based on some group's narrow interpretation of a book that they themselves reject in whole or in part, and thus being a non or quasi-believer, would be a block. They would agree that any movement to make this a Christian nation and enshrining that viewpoint in law and culture is working against the constitution and the clear intent of the framers. A person who is spiritual but not adhering to any established denomination or sect has likely rejected the voice of any formal religious authority.

                There are lots of mainstream believers who also feel that any religious viewpoint needs to be kept separate from government. If the 15% defend their vote as a block it could be enough, when adding most other people who don't want to be told what their morality must consist of, to keep a permanent voting block against theocracy in place. Also non-belief is currently the fastest growing 'religious' group in the nation. And has been for going on a decade.

        •  You miss the point (0+ / 0-)

          It's about the design of the poll.

          You can ask any question. As long the question is positively framed and non specific and the semantic content is not absolutely outrageous, you will get at least 10 to 20% approval among the responders. If the meaning of the question refers to a socially "approved" concept such as "faith" or "christianity" or "bacon" (especially "bacon"), you will get double that.

          People want to belong and seek approval. They'll tailor their answer to please the questioner and feel part of the in-group.

          That's why you absolutely need to use alternate phrasing when polling for very ambiguous, multiple meaning questions. At least, two phrasings positive/negative, and for things as vague and loaded as "are we a christian nation?", more alternates, at least four positive/negative+pro/con.

          Otherwise, the result is utterly worthless.

          I deal in facts. My friends are few but fast.

          by Farugia on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 10:54:40 AM PDT

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    •  I wouldn't take that poll too seriously. (1+ / 0-)
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      Brooke In Seattle

      Ou sont les neigedens d'antan?

      by SouthernLiberalinMD on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 08:14:19 AM PDT

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    •  If you are raised in an evangelical church, (1+ / 0-)
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      and have had that association as a central part of your life as an adult, there would be no reason to question the premise.  It is not a matter of intelligence so much, but a matter of acceptance of the beliefs you and your family and friends have been taught since you all were born.

      Mother Teresa: "If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other."

      by Amber6541 on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 11:17:41 AM PDT

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