Religious Left Gaining Prominence in U.S. Politics

For decades, when Americans talked about faith and politics the phrase "religious right" came to mind. But the country's political landscape is changing and now the "religious left" is re-emerging to play a prominent role in U.S. politics, observed one of the country's foremost experts on faith and politics.

John Green, senior fellow in Religion and American Politics at the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, contends the religious right no longer plays the "dominant role" in America's faith-based politics in a Pew Forum interview posted on Thursday.

Instead, the religious left has, in some sense, replaced the religious right in being the prominent voice for faith voters.

However, Green quickly clarified that this is not to say the religious right is dead.

"[O]ne would want to be cautious about assuming that the religious right's organizations, leaders and voters have left politics," Green clarified. "They have not.

"For example, on the same day that Obama and Clinton struggled for religious voters in North Carolina, John McCain was in the state promising to appoint conservative federal judges, a key issue for religious right voters whose support he will need in November."

Green noted that it's somewhat difficult to define the religious left because it is a highly diverse group. But he suggested that it is composed mostly of people with "liberal" perspectives on theology and political issues, with subgroups that have conservative theological perspective but liberal views on political issues, or theological liberals and political moderates.

What appears to unite the loose network of the religious left is their concern for social justice issue such as poverty, as well as in their opposition to the war in Iraq, and more recently, advocacy for environmental protection. Members of this group, however, are divided over issues of abortion and gay "marriage."

"Another thing that these groups share in common is a negative reaction to the religious right," Green said. "They dislike what they perceive as the religious right's confrontational style and single-minded focus on 'moral values.'"

The much sought-after expert also noted that the religious left is not entirely new to American history because for most of the 20th century it was the dominant player in faith-based politics. It wasn't until the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan that the religious right became dominant in politics.

Although there are no precise numbers for the religious left, Green estimates that a total of a little more than one-quarter of the adult population in the United States can be categorized as the religious left.

"The 2004 aggregate figure may surprise some people, given the small size of each of its components," Green said. "What it means for the 2008 presidential election is that the religious left, broadly defined, could impact a close contest."

Was this article helpful?

Want more articles like this?

Help keep The Christian Post free for everyone by making a one-time donation today.

We’re sorry to hear that.

Hope you’ll give us another try and check out some other articles. Return to homepage.

Free Religious Freedom Updates

Join thousands of others to get the FREEDOM POST newsletter for free, sent twice a week from The Christian Post.

Most Popular

Free Religious Freedom Updates

A religious liberty newsletter that is a must-read for people of faith.

More In Politics