Rise of the Religious Left
By CHARLES M. BLOW
This was revealed by a report issued last week by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.
On the surface it may seem surprising, but, in fact, it’s quite logical. Blacks and Hispanics, two highly religious groups, are a growing part of the Democratic Party. A June 2009 Gallup report found that blacks and Hispanics constituted 30 percent of the party. Recent polling by Pew puts the number at 37 percent.
According to a Gallup report issued last Friday, church attendance among blacks is exactly the same as among conservatives and among Republicans. Hispanics closely follow. Furthermore, a February Gallup report found that blacks and Hispanics, respectively, were the most likely to say that religion was an important part of their daily lives. In fact, on the Jesus question, nonwhite Democrats were roughly twice as likely as white Democrats to believe that He would return to earth by 2050.
Add to this the fact that, according to the 2009 Gallup report, 20 percent of the Democratic Party is composed of highly religious whites who attend church once a week or more, and you quickly stop second-guessing the Second Coming numbers.
Welcome to the Religious Left, which will continue to grow as the percentage of minorities in the country and in the party grows.
People often ask whether the Republican Party will have to move to the left to remain viable. However, the question rarely asked is whether the growing religiosity on the left will push the Democrats toward the right.
At the moment, that answer is both yes and no. On the one hand, unlike John Kerry before him, Barack Obama made a strong play for the religious vote on his march to the White House. It worked so well that it’s likely to continue, if not intensify, among Democratic candidates. On the other hand, the religious left is not the religious right. The left isn’t as organized or assertive. For the most part, it seems to have made its peace with the mishmash of morality under the Democratic umbrella, rallying instead around some core Democratic tenets: protection of, and equality for, the disenfranchised and providing greater opportunity and assistance for the poor.
The unanswerable questions are whether these highly religious, socially conservative Democrats will remain loyal to a liberal agenda as they become the majority of the party and their financial and social standing improves. Or whether Republicans will finally make headway in recruiting them. The future only knows.
Then again, the world as we know it may not have much of a future if, as these Democrats believe, a deity will soon descend from the sky