Religion And The 2020 Election

I find it interesting that most Americans do not see our Democratic presidential candidates as being religious, though most have talked about their relationship with their religion and God.

According to a February 27 report by the Pew Research Center, nearly 60 percent of the voting public believes that Bernie Sanders is “not too or not at all” religious. According to the Washington Post, Sanders has said that “he is ‘not actively involved with organized religion’ but that being Jewish has shaped his values.” Could Sanders be considered a “None?” He is already being accused as being a Communist.

The Pew survey covered only the top four Democratic candidates as of January, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg (who dropped out of the race on March 1, 2020). Mike Bloomberg, Amy Klobuchar (who dropped out of the race on March 2) or any other Democratic candidates were not included in the survey.

Though Warren speaks to her relationship with religion, nearly 50 percent believe she is “not too or not at all religious.” The same holds true with Biden.

I find as surprising is that 6 to 30 percent of the general public either have not heard of the candidates or simple refused to answer the question of religious influence. I find this most interesting seeing that “Mayor Pete” has done relatively well in the opening salvos of the nomination process – but not well enough to continue.

What is not surprising is that 50 to 75 percent of the Republican voters surveyed believe that none of the top Democratic candidates were “not too or not religious at all.”

Most Americans do not understand or do not know that the Constitution of the United States, Article VI, Clause 3, specifically states that “…no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

Most Americans vote from their heart or make up their minds in the last minutes, not from a position of actual knowledge of the candidates’ political positions but what they heard on the news or in their churches, synagogues, mosques or temples. Or they have a single subject test for their chosen candidate.

Unfortunately that single subject is usually predicated on their religious affiliation concerning subjects like abortion, LGBTQ issues, religious rights and alike. Even women’s right positions are subject to one’s religious tutorage.

The Rolling Stone reported in December, 2019, that “Evangelicals… make up as much as a quarter of the country, or close to 80 million people. Around 60 percent vote, more than any other demographic, and among white evangelical voters, more than three-quarters tend to go to Republicans, thanks to wedge issues like abortion, same-sex marriage, and transgender rights.”

Though Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, hers were concentrated in the liberal states. Trump won the Electoral College with votes in states with more religious populations in the mid-west and south.

The president will have a strong religious following this next general election because he has delivered super-conservatives to the federal court system, including the Supreme Court. Most right-wing Christians will remain loyal to his regime.

If Sanders is the eventual nominee, the religious right will smear him as an atheist and a communist. Biden and Warren will be linked to their women’s rights stances as being anti-Christian.

If the numbers hold true for the 2020 election as they did in 2016, 45 percent of the voters, mostly from the southern and mid-western states, will lean to the GOP side of the ticket, believing that Dems are all anti-religious. Trump has already warned his following that if the Democrats win the House, Senate and presidency, they will press anti-religious policies that will negatively affect the Evangelical community.

Christianity Today wrote in a December, 2019, Op-Ed:

But when it comes to condemning the behavior of another, patient charity must come first. So we have done our best to give evangelical Trump supporters their due, to try to understand their point of view, to see the prudential nature of so many political decisions they have made regarding Mr. Trump. To use an old cliché, it’s time to call a spade a spade, to say that no matter how many hands we win in this political poker game, we are playing with a stacked deck of gross immorality and ethical incompetence.

Religious liberals, agnostics, atheists and “Nones” need to close the gap on the religious-right’s strong hold on the government.

We need to emphasize that the wall of separation between church and state needs to be strengthened, not torn down. We need to emphasize that the president is immoral and incapable of religious purity. We need to vote in mass this election cycle to counter the religious-right movement.

About David Rosman

David is the winner of the Missouri Press Foundation's "Best Columnist" in 2013 (First Place) and 2014 (Second Place), the 2016 Harold Riback Award for excellence in writing, and the winner of the 2007 Interactive Media Award for excellence in editing.
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