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Old 12-17-2007, 11:07 PM  
Jenson71 Jenson71 is offline
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Think Religion Plays a Bigger Role in Politics Today?

Think Religion Plays a Bigger Role in Politics Today? You're Right. Statistics Prove It.
By Kevin Coe and David Domke

Mr. Coe is a doctoral candidate in Speech Communication at the University of Illinois. Mr. Domke is Professor of Communication and Head of Journalism at the University of Washington. They are authors of the just-published book, The God Strategy: How Religion Became a Political Weapon in America (Oxford).

The 2008 presidential campaign is striking in that it seems to be nearly as much about religion as politics.

Mitt Romney’s much-discussed speech on faith and politics is just one recent example of a trend that has stretched throughout the campaign and across both sides of the partisan aisle. During the seemingly endless string of debates, candidates have pondered what Jesus would do about capital punishment, raised their hands to deny evolution, considered whether America is a Christian nation, described the power of prayer, and eagerly affirmed that yes, the Bible is indeed the word of God.

There was a time when such overt religious displays from presidential hopefuls might have been surprising. Now they’re a mundane feature of every serious campaign. How did we get here? In a sense, it all began on July 17, 1980.

That evening, in Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena, Ronald Reagan accepted the Republican nomination for president. Fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals, newly mobilized through organizations such as the Moral Majority, had found their man.

For the previous four years this constituency had tried to like Jimmy Carter who, after all, was an openly “born again” Christian. But Carter had disappointed the political faithful with his insufficiently aggressive foreign policy, support for Roe v. Wade, and general unwillingness to make his faith demonstrably public. Indeed, Carter in his nomination acceptance addresses in 1976 and 1980 made no mention of God whatsoever.

Reagan had a very different strategy. Approaching the end of his 1980 acceptance speech, Reagan departed from his prepared remarks: “I have thought of something that is not part of my speech and I’m worried over whether I should do it.” He paused, then continued:

“Can we doubt that only a Divine Providence placed this land, this island of freedom, here as a refuge for all those people in the world who yearn to breathe freely: Jews and Christians enduring persecution behind the Iron Curtain, the boat people of Southeast Asia, of Cuba and Haiti, the victims of drought and famine in Africa, the freedom fighters of Afghanistan and our own countrymen held in savage captivity.”

Reagan went on, “I’ll confess that”—and here his voice faltered momentarily—“I’ve been a little afraid to suggest what I’m going to suggest.” A long pause ensued, followed by this: “I’m more afraid not to. Can we begin our crusade joined together in a moment of silent prayer?” The entire hall went silent, heads bowed. He then concluded with words uncommon at the time: “God bless America.”

How do we know that this moment marked a turning point? We ran the numbers.

Our analysis of thousands of public communications across eight decades shows that American politics today is defined by a calculated, demonstrably public religiosity unlike anything in modern history. Consider a few examples.

If one looks at nearly 360 major speeches that presidents from Franklin Roosevelt to George W. Bush have given, the increase in religiosity is astounding. The average president from FDR to Carter mentioned God in a minority of his speeches, doing so about 47% of the time. Reagan, in contrast, mentioned God in 96% of his speeches. George H. W. Bush did so 91% of the time, Clinton 93%, and the current Bush (through year six) was at 94%. Further, the total number of references to God in the average presidential speech since 1981 is 120% higher than the average speech from 1933-1980. References to broader religious terms, such as faith, pray, sacred, worship, crusade, and dozens of others increased by 60%.

Presidential requests for divine favor also show a profound shift. The phrase “God Bless America,” now the signature tagline of American politics, gained ubiquity in the 1980s. Prior to 1981, the phrase had only once passed a modern president’s lips in a major address: Richard Nixon’s, as he concluded an April 30, 1973, speech about the Watergate scandal. Since Reagan, presidents have rarely concluded a major address without “God Bless America” or a close variant.

Recent presidents have also made far more “pilgrimages” to speak to audiences of faith. From FDR through Carter, presidents averaged 5.3 public remarks before overtly religious organizations in a four-year term. Beginning with Reagan through six years of Bush, this average more than tripled to 16.6 per term. For example, since 1981 GOP presidents have spoken 13 times to the National Association of Evangelicals or the National Religious Broadcasters Association, four times to the Knights of Columbus, and four times to the Southern Baptist Convention. Clinton never spoke to these conservative organizations; instead, he spoke in churches. From FDR through Carter, presidents delivered public remarks in churches an average of twice per four-year term. In contrast, Clinton spoke in churches 28 times during two terms in the White House—10 more visits than Reagan, Bush Sr. and Bush Jr. combined.

Wherever we looked, whatever we measure, we find the same pattern. Presidents and presidential hopefuls since Reagan have been afraid to be seen as the apostate in the room. They put religion front and center to show they’re not.

This new age is one that many past presidents would hardly recognize. One can’t help but wonder what would become of a candidate today who, like John Kennedy in 1960, “believe[s] in a president whose views on religion are his own private affair.”

http://hnn.us/articles/45469.html
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Old 12-18-2007, 07:51 AM   #2
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It's cyclical...religion, like many other aspects of life (vocation, education, income, even race and gender) plays a role in determining one's political attitudes and values.

There's nothing new or unexpected about that.

The only thing unusual about it, is that some would ascribe nafarious and dastardly motive to that development.
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Old 12-18-2007, 09:38 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Kotter
The only thing unusual about it, is that some would ascribe nafarious and dastardly motive to that development.
Is it any more unusual than those who ascribe the same behaviors to those of us who don't believe? I think not.

Or do you not recall we Athiests being lumped in with the Communists and others during the red scare, for example? Now we're being singled out by major candidates (Romney) and told that we can't really know what freedom is as "freedom requires religion", or some such nonsense.

Given that, why would you find it unusual that some would "fight fire with fire"? JMO.
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Old 12-18-2007, 09:40 AM   #4
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Yes I do, and no, I don't think that's a good thing.
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Old 12-18-2007, 09:42 AM   #5
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It was a big deal that John F Kennedy was the first openly Catholic president elected.

I don't think it plays more of a role in politics then it has before, I think it is more widely known byt the masses because of the 24/7 news coverage. There has to be filler stories at times and this is the type of stories that would be used to fill the time.

I think most people who grew up in churc, regardless of which one, was molded by religion. They may not be a practicing Christian, Jew, or any other religion, but how they are is/was influenced by the previous experience with religion.
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Old 12-18-2007, 09:43 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bowser
Yes I do, and no, I don't think that's a good thing.
Why do you think it isn't a good thing? Granted, anything taken to the extreme is bad, in moderation, how is it bad?
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Old 12-18-2007, 09:44 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adept Havelock
Is it any more unusual than those who ascribe the same behaviors to those of us who don't believe? I think not.

Or do you not recall we Athiests being lumped in with the Communists and others during the red scare, for example? Now we're being singled out by major candidates (Romney) and told that we can't really know what freedom is as "freedom requires religion", or some such nonsense.

Given that, why would you find it unusual that some would "fight fire with fire"? JMO.
I don't condone that which you've described either. Both are equally idiotic, IMO.
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Old 12-18-2007, 09:46 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Kotter
I don't condone that which you've described either. Both are equally idiotic, IMO.
Good to know.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bkkcoh
Why do you think it isn't a good thing? Granted, anything taken to the extreme is bad, in moderation, how is it bad?
In moderation, I'm fine with it. However, when that moves to teaching Creationism in a Science class (I have no problem with it being taught in a philosophy or religion class..or a Science class, as soon as the ID folks cook up a theory that can be peer-reviewed not based on "Irreducible Complexity"), talk of restoring Blue Laws, "No Law but God's Law" and "Christian Nation" rhetoric and such, I get rather concerned.

Then there's the issue of candidates claiming (or implying) God wants them to win. For instance. Mr. Scudder's Huckabee's recent nonsense "There's only one explanation for it, and it's not a human one. It's the same power that helped a little boy with two fish and five loaves feed a crowd of 5,000 people."

Implying God wants you to win is about as pathetic as it gets, IMO.
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Last edited by Adept Havelock; 12-18-2007 at 09:53 AM..
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Old 12-18-2007, 09:46 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bowser
Yes I do, and no, I don't think that's a good thing.
Why?

Would the world be a better place, if we just kept to ourselves.....and allowed non-believers to run the world??? Because I for one, think that would really be disastrous.

Seriously?


(FTR, I do accept the notion of "separation of Church and state"....but that, IMO is not what is really being discussed here....)
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Old 12-18-2007, 09:49 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bkkcoh
Why do you think it isn't a good thing? Granted, anything taken to the extreme is bad, in moderation, how is it bad?
The basic answer? I don't feel religion is a "moderate" issue, even if it is for the person running for whatever office. Even if that person doesn't make a big deal of it, someone somewhere looking for dirt will, and then the focus goes from being what the person is about to what they believe (or don't believe) religiously, and how that translates for the "greater good" of the people. A circle jerk, if you will.
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Old 12-18-2007, 09:51 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bkkcoh

I don't think it plays more of a role in politics then it has before, I think it is more widely known byt the masses because of the 24/7 news coverage. There has to be filler stories at times and this is the type of stories that would be used to fill the time.
The how do you account for the increased mention of God or religious terms in the major speeches that the article counted?
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Old 12-18-2007, 09:52 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bowser
The basic answer? I don't feel religion is a "moderate" issue, even if it is for the person running for whatever office. Even if that person doesn't make a big deal of it, someone somewhere looking for dirt will, and then the focus goes from being what the person is about to what they believe (or don't believe) religiously, and how that translates for the "greater good" of the people. A circle jerk, if you will.
And that's different from non-believers, precisely, how?

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Old 12-18-2007, 09:53 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Kotter
Would the world be a better place, if we just kept to ourselves.....and allowed non-believers to run the world??? Because I for one, think that would really be disastrous.
Why do you think that religious people can't keep their religion to theirselves?
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Old 12-18-2007, 09:54 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Kotter
Why?

Would the world be a better place, if we just kept to ourselves.....and allowed non-believers to run the world??? Because I for one, think that would really be disastrous.

Seriously?


(FTR, I do accept the notion of "separation of Church and state"....but that, IMO is not what is really being discussed here....)
That quip right there speaks volumes. I'd rather have a "non-believer" who is intelligent with tons of common sense running the county/state/nation instead of a "believer" with limited faculties, smarts, and/or common sense stumbling through his term, but placating the religious masses with his powerpoint speeches.
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Old 12-18-2007, 09:55 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Kotter
And that's different from non-believers, precisely, how?

That's the point. It seems a person's beliefs have become as important as what they stand for politically, and I think that's a mistake. You're right - it goes both ways. And why?
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