Tuesday, November 28, 2006

President Bush is a Liberal?

Or at least that's what a recent Baylor study says.
According to his [Paul Froese, assistant professor of sociology], released Oct. 25, 40 percent of evangelicals who support George W. Bush actually emerged as “liberal” on economic issues, specifically in beliefs about wealth distribution and economic justice.
I'm not sure I really know what that means...The study also revealed some other strange notions, especially in conservative circles. 76 percent of evangelicals believe the government should do more to protect the environment. This is one where conservatives have typically been on the wrong side. 74 percent of evangelicals believe it is “very important” to seek social and economic justice; yet again, there is no conservative voice where these issues are concerned.

This quote really caught my eye:
Conversely, some voters not classified as evangelicals revealed surprising opinions on some traditionally “liberal” causes. According to Baylor researchers, 61 percent of “nonevangelicals” think religious groups should be allowed to display religious symbols in public spaces. And a whopping 64 percent of nonevangelicals think the government should allow prayer in public schools.
Politicos nationwide would do well to take note of the twist in voter consciousness,Byron Johnson, co-director of the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion, said in the report, “Such findings should not go unnoticed by Republican officials,” he said.
The mid-term elections didn't really do the trick so maybe this study will. And this story is just plain tragic. Ridculously, the ABP ran this story with a link on the sidebar on their website; NC Pastor Spent Church Money on Viagra. The full story documents this pastor's reprehensible behavior and the ED issue is addressed in only a minor key: "Walker used his church's credit card to pay for erectile dysfunction medication..." Talk about integrity in journalism.


Streak said...

Intersesting. Some political scientists suggest that Americans have not substantially changed their political beliefs in the last 30 years. Instead of moving to the right, they have remained essentially in the same place on core policy issues.

Two comments. Why, given these beliefs, have evangelicals continued to follow the President who has completely gutted environmental controls and refuses to acknowledge human involvement in global warming?

Second, the areas where evangelicals are far more liberal than supposed are the areas (in my opinion) that matter tremendously to our survival. The areas where non-evangelicals are conservative are in the least important. Does anyone seriously think that religious symbols on public spaces or school prayer will substantially change our culture?

Or perhaps I am just more jaded this evening. The pastor who used the Church credit card on Viagara is just priceless. You cannot make that stuff up.

Tony said...


There were too many ironies in these news articles not to post something about them.

IMO, I think it comes back to Christians bindly following Christian celebrities. Not to mention that most people, not just Christians, are not given to thinking for themselves. They would rather let some talking head do their thinking for them. Then when said talking head proclaims some position on some thing, then whether it is true or not, he has his popularity behind him to support what he said, whether it be true or correct.

Take this little blurb from Dr. Falwell's 11-17 Falwell Confidential: "There are those who believe that, while the earth appears to have slightly warmed in recent years, there is legitimate question as to whether this has been caused by human activity or by natural cycles."

It bothers me when someone like him makes blanket statements like that without scholarly opinion to back him up. How can he claim credibility in an area like that?

And no, I don't seriously think that religious symbols or even prayer in schools will substantially change anything. Here is what I think.

The church has disarmed itself of its most valuable weapon and that would be the individual believer. When the church speaks as a Borg-ish collective then the culture does not take them seriously because most non-believers see that the church just wants to assimilate them, divest themselves of all their "bad habits," and become just like them, following the aforementioned talking heads. The most able apologetic is a changed life, and sadly, you just cannot tell the church from the world anymore. It may have been true 50-60 years ago. But not anymore.

Streak said...

Interesting. We certainly agree on this issue of celebrity. Seems like that causes problems in every area of life. I know it is one in academia, and we see it every day in the media, but how interesting that it has the same exact effect in the Christian community. Falwell never ceases to amaze me, but I think the same problem can be associated with people like Jim Wallis, though I agree with him far more often.

It is an interesting conundrum, however. I am not sure I completely understand your point about the individual believer as best communicator--at least not at the broader cultural level. Not disagreeing, just not sure how that would work.

Tony said...

I guess my point would be that churches have a reputation just like individual people do. Churches sometimes resemble, at least to me, a bunch of teenagers congregating in the hallways at school, each one trying to impress the other, wearing similar clothes, talking in the same vernacular.

When a young person is different, or even odd perhaps, then he is shunned. When you have a true, radical follower of Christ, someone who loves like He loves, sacrifices like He sacrifices, gives like He gives, then that one is shunned. Why? Because he is different from the rest. We say we love like He loves, give, share, sacrifice, etc. But the fact is we don't. And it is rare to find a church, or individual believer that isn't so self-absorbed that these things really matter.

But when you can denounce and decry every going immoral behavior, then you're on to something. You got your popularity to back you up and several other "believers" behind you who "believe" the same way you do. Easily quantifiable and a popularity booster. Do we ever really ask why Christ was so popular? It was not for the same reasons.

Church is more like being everyone else than being like Jesus. Jesus was certainly a free thinker, a deep thinker. One unafraid to counter the culture, and even at the expense of destroying his popularity. Other men that come to mind are CS Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, and Dietrich Bonheoffer. I may be a bit influenced by John Stott's Christ the Controversialist, so I think that that is where I am coming from about the importance of the individual believer. Plus it is late and I'm not thinking as clearly as I would like.

I appreciate your commenting on my blog.

Streak said...

No, that makes a lot of sense and gives me some things to think about.