The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life and the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press surveyed 2,905 adults from July 21-August 10th. The survey revealed a disturbing trend concerning the attitude of conservatives about the mixing of politics and religion. Four years ago, just thirty-percent of conservatives believed that churches and other houses of worship should stay out of politics. The 2008 survey found that now, fifty-percent of conservatives express this view. The survey also discovered that the sharp division between Democrats and Republicans concerning religion has virtually disappeared.
Two years ago, only two out of every ten people surveyed believed Democrats were friendly to religion. Today, that number has doubled to four out of ten. Also disturbing is the number of evangelicals who seem to be waffling between McCain and Obama. While McCain enjoys a significant lead in the polls with evangelicals, only twenty-eight percent say they "strongly" support McCain, which means the support of the vast majority of evangelicals is still up for grabs.
As I have said many times, 2004 was a watershed moment for the Democrat party. Up until 2004, they saw conservative evangelicals as an irritant. The party’s take on religion was to ignore it within the party and to condemn Republicans for mixing politics and religion.
But the exit polling data from the presidential race revealed that it was conservative evangelicals that gave Bush the edge over Kerry and expanded the Republican majority in Congress. Democrats immediately began changing their strategy from defeating evangelicals to becoming pseudo evangelicals. They launched an all out attack against conservative evangelicals, painting them as fundamentalists who want to turn America into a theocracy. When you add the scandals associated with prominent evangelical leaders that preceded the 2006 mid-term elections you have the disappointment and disillusionment throughout the Christian Right that opened the door of opportunity for the Democrats. They replaced the haranguing of religion with the hiring of consultants who could teach them the language of Zion while many continue to support the agenda of Babylon.
The Democrat National Convention that kicked off this past Sunday in the Pepsi Center in Denver looked and sounded more like a tent revival than a political stump meeting. Rev. Leah Daughtry led what was billed as the first ever Convention interfaith gathering. Rev. Daughtry demonstrated the “big tent” atmosphere of the meeting by greeting those in attendance in the language of the Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and Christian faith.
Four years ago the Democrats could boast only one meeting during the convention that dealt with the topic of religion. This year’s convention includes ecumenical prayers offered at the beginning and ending of each session along with a plethora of discussion groups led by Left leaning religious organizations that didn’t even exist prior to 2004.
If the results of this poll are accurate, and I suspect that they are, it means the strategy of the Left is working. The good news from the poll is that a majority still believe it is important for presidents to have strong religious beliefs and that fifty-two percent still view the Republican Party being favorable toward religion. While those numbers are encouraging we should remember that the Left doesn't have to win a majority of conservative evangelicals in order to win the election. They only have to siphon off between ten and twenty-percent in order to seal the election for Barack Obama. Believers must be wise in this election cycle. It is more important than ever for born-again Christians to know where the candidates stand (and have stood in the past) on key social issues. The culture war, the war for the heart and soul of America is still raging. This year's presidential election will be a major battlefront.
Dr. Tony Beam is Vice-President for Student Services and Director of the Christian Worldview Center at North Greenville University in Tigerville, South Carolina.