Monday, January 24, 2011

Religion and Politics 2010-2011

David Gibson, the incisive religion reporter for PoliticsDaily, posted an interesting take on the top religion stories of 2010. Everyone who missed the end-of-the-year, top-religion-stories-of-2010 lists can find them linked at the beginning of Gibson's article. As usual, Gibson takes the next step and gives more meaning and context to those stories.

Included on Gibson's analytical list, which anticipates what will happen in the new year, are the following:

The tea party huffs, the religious right puffs. Will there be a truce between religious conservatives and the tea party? Will the economy override the social issues favored by religious believers, right and left?

American exceptionalism is the American religion. Gibson argues that the current American civil religion is the belief that America is a divinely inspired nation of chosen people with a God-given duty to be a light unto the rest of the world. 80% of Americans believe this...but only 58% think President Obama shares that view. This may explain why Obama tried to Christianize his rhetoric over the Christmas holidays.

Islam is not an American religion....yet. Are Muslims the new Catholics? Not yet. Gibson links this conclusion to another point, namely that gay rights are not so wrong....meaning that Americans today are more supportive of gay rights than of Muslim religious freedom. This is a good reminder that it can take a long time for new or unpopular groups to gain full freedoms under the Constitution.

Finally, Sex is easy, economics is hard.... and The Catholic Church never gets rid of scandals.

So expect to see more battles over religious diversity in 2011...always with the possibility that the bad economy will force people to put aside religious differences and find common ground on non-religious issues.

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