Interesting article about how the religious are on opposing sides of politics when comparing Britain to the U.S.
In Britain, the devout tend to be economic progressives. Why have American Christians embraced social Darwinism?
April 20, 2012 |
Photo Credit: Jasmic
Here's a newspaper headline that might induce a disbelieving double take: "Christians 'More Likely to Be Leftwing' And Have Liberal Views on Immigration and Equality." Sounds too hard to believe, right? Well, it's true -- only not here in America, but in the United Kingdom.
That headline, from London's Daily Mail, summed up the two-tiered conclusion of a new report from the British think tank Demos, which found that in England 1) "religious people are more active citizens (who) volunteer more, donate more to charity and are more likely to campaign on political issues" and 2) "religious people are more likely to be politically progressive (people who) put a greater value on equality than the non-religious, are more likely to be welcoming of immigrants as neighbours (and) more likely to put themselves on the left of the political spectrum."
These findings are important to America for two reasons.
First, they tell us that, contrary to evidence in the United States, the intersection of religion and politics doesn't have to be fraught with hypocrisy. Britain is a Christian-dominated country, and the Christian Bible is filled with liberal economic sentiment. It makes perfect sense, then, that the more devoutly loyal to that Bible one is, the more progressive one would be on economics.
Here in the United States, those who self-identify as religious tend to be exactly the opposite of their British counterparts when it comes to politics. As the Pew Research Center recently discovered, "Most people who agree with the religious right also support the Tea Party" and its ultra-conservative economic agenda. Summing up the situation, scholar Gregory Paul wrote in the Washington Post that many religious Christians in America simply ignore the Word and "proudly proclaim that the creator of the universe favors free wheeling, deregulated union busting, minimal taxes, especially for wealthy investors, and plutocrat-boosting capitalism as the ideal earthly scheme for his human creations."
The good news is that this may be starting to change. In recent years, for instance, Pew has found that younger evangelicals are less devoutly committed to the Republican Party and its Tea Party-inspired agenda than older evangelicals.
I had noticed that strange dichotomy. I have had discussions online with British Christians who despise atheism because they (wrongly) associate it with social Darwinism. Here in America, many Christians embrace social Darwinism (without of course, having a clue as to what it is) as they despise evolution, and most of science, for that matter. If the younger American evangelicals are turning into more caring and empathic people, if they begin to pay attention to social justice, that is only good news.
American theists are dicks, simple as that.
Timothy Noah laments how Christianists have distorted "Christian":
A 78-percent majority of Americans is Christian. Only about a third of them self-identify as evangelical, which is a very rough proxy for the Christian conservative minority that increasingly insists on being called, simply, “Christian.”
Fred Clark is equally incensed:
Millions of white evangelical Protestants voted for Barack Obama in 2008. Millions of them. Millions of us. More than the combined total populations of Alaska, Delaware, Montana, the Dakotas, Vermont, Wyoming, Rhode Island and West Virginia. But for the most part, the fundraisers and vote-herders of the religious right have succeeded in getting the media to play along with the weird idea that these millions of people do not exist.
(Photo: A supporter of Republican presidential candidate and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA) waits for his arrival outside Centro de la Familia evangelical church January 28, 2012 in Orlando, Florida. By Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)