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August 21, 2008

Americans: churches should stay out of politics

Many Americans wanted religious institutions involved in politics over the past decade, but a recent study shows that a the majority (52 percent) say churches should keep out.

Among evangelicals, 36 percent say that churches should keep out of politics, a hike from 20 percent who said the same thing in 2004, a study from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life shows.

The study also shows that 68 percent of evangelicals said they support Sen. John McCain, which is down slightly from the 71 percent of evangelicals that supported President Bush in August 2004.

There has been a lot of talk about the broadening of the "evangelical agenda" since 2004 because evangelicals care about the environment and poverty. The study shows abortion and gay marriage rank fairly low on the "very important" list, but so does the environment, and poverty isn't listed.

The chart below shows the list of what evangelicals consider "very important" from top to bottom.


I don't think it's fair to characterize abortion and gay marriage as being "fairly low" on the list. After, both of those issues are still considered to be very important by well over 50% of evangelicals polled. Just because other issues like terrorism and Iraq happen to rank higher doesn't mean that hot button standbys like abortion and gay marriage are becoming irrelevant.

Most Americans, and reasonable evangelicals, recognize values means more than the narrow issue litmus tests the partisan evangelical hacks would focus on exclusively. Folks realize the hypocrisy of the few who continue to trot out the same divisive issues just for election seasons, while the same few will not speak out against real scandalous, sleazy tactics of our current leadership. Evangelicals are tired of being labeled hypocrites, most characterized by the Moral Majority's Ralph Reed being centrally involved in immoral Abramoff corruption scandals - virtuous acts like lobbying for criminals, wasting taxpayers dollars, and supporting slavery on US Territory.

Talking the talk is cheap, but if you're not walking the walk it does not cut it anymore. The economy, torture, integrity and poverty are real issues that evangelicals care about, but the conservative leadership would rather change the subject.

Many evangelicals are rejecting being as pawns of the sleazy partisan right wingers and also they are tired of the nasty politics of dishonesty and personal attacks characterized by the same right wing conservatives.

If the economy is really at the top of evangelicals "very important" list, we should consider voting for Obama. His economic policy seems much more like the work of Jesus.