Last year, I tried to glean some insights (here and here, for those interested) from Pew's US Religious Landscape Survey. Breaking up material into digestable and coherent chunks is not a strong suit, and an arbitrary third post on the project was left to gather cyberdust. Feathering it away, a few other points of potential interest:
- Uniquely, Mormons are both economically successful and fecund relative to the other 13 theistic affiliations* considered. They also have the most positive outlooks on life, suggesting their zest for existence doesn't stop at the office or in the bedroom. Of the seven questions asked concerning personal opportunities and life satisfaction, Mormons gave the most optimistic responses to five.
They are the most likely to be satisfied with the direction the country is going in, to be satisfied with their family lives, with how the political system works, with their personal safety and protection against things like crime and terrorism, and the most likely to believe that people who want to get ahead in life can do so if they are willing to work hard. They are the second most likely to be satisfied with their own personal lives (Buddhists are first) and the third most likely to be satisfied with their material standard of living (Jews are first, Hindus are second).
- The more Republican an affiliation's members are, the more likely they are to believe that people are able to get ahead in life if they work hard (as opposed to the view that hard work is no guarantee of success). The two correlate at .55 (p=.04).
- The percentage of each affiliation's members who believe the government should do more to help the needy, even if it requires debt financing, subtracted by the percentage who believe the government is stretched too thin to do anything more. Thus the higher the figure, the more supportive of governmental welfare programs an affiliation's members are:
|1. Historically black||64|
|4. Other Christian||47|
|5. Other non-Christian||47|
|8. Jehovah's Witness||36|
|11. Mainline Protestant||25|
Not surprisingly, the more supportive an affiliation's members are of increased government welfare, the more supportive they are of the Democratic party. The correlation is a strong .73 (p=0). It is worth noting that the correlation between support for increased government welfare and political liberalism is more modest, at .54 (p=.04). Members of historically black churches, Jehovah Witnesses, and Muslims are the most likely to consider themselves conservative relative to their support for the Democratic party. Buddhist, Jews, and other various smaller theologically liberal affiliations are the least likely to do so.
Barack Obama's election to the Presidency highlights the potential for a coming fissure in the Democratic coalition. Stark gender distinctions, a premium on monetary success and male masculinity, and (extended) family orientation (ie, family reunions lasting several days) are all held in high regard in the black community. When focused on it, blacks tend to be merciless in ridiculing whiterpeople social causes like vegetarianism, opposition to dog fighting (that one can really set them off), and pussy Prius cars. Environmentalism is viewed as borderline racism (that is, it is perceived as anti-black). These attitudes also describe working class Hispanics to some degree. On all of these issues, the distance between NAMs and whiterpeople is greater than it is between NAMs and middle class white Republicans.
Obama campaigned as a whiter in black's clothing to win over as many of the electorally important white voters as he was able to do, knowing racialism would net him large turnout and virtually universal support among blacks. To the extent that non-whites succeed to top positions in the Democratic party over the next three decades or so, that will probably be the primary route taken. But as the Democratic party becomes less white, non-white candidates will feel less inclined to cater to the concerns of whiter liberals. If current trends continue, by mid-century, the firm majority of Democratic voters will be non-white.
- One of my favorite bloggers is whiterperson Fat Knowledge. Although his writing suggests he rarely thinks actively in terms of human biodiversity, he is reasonable in considering h-bd when others point to how it interacts with this behavior or that outcome. So it's with a gentle jab that I call on him to admit that a post in which he insinuates disdain for "religious nutballs who try to force their religion on us" applies to a higher percentage of black churchgoers (69%) than it does to the other thirteen affiliations Pew gathered data on, including Evangelicals (64%), second most likely group to say their churches should express views on social and political questions.
- Below is a moral absolution index, computed by looking at responses to the question of whether or not there are "clear and absolute standards for what is right and wrong". The percentage of an affiliation's members who completely agree is counted as two points, the percentage that mostly agrees is counted as one point, that don't know or refused to answer as zero points, that mostly disagree as a negative one point, and that completely disagree as negative two points. The higher the score, the more morally absolutist an affiliation is. Conversely, the lower the score, the more morally relativistic it is:
|2. Jehovah's Witness||119|
|4. Historically black||94|
|6. Mainline Protestant||83|
|9. Other Christian||69|
|13. Other non-Christian||28|
No big surprises, other than the relative, uh, relativism of Muslims. The conventional wisdom seems to be that Muslims in the US are with Evangelicals on most social issues. Maybe as a group they're more 'moderate' than they're given credit for. Or maybe their nuanced thinking about the issue of suicide bombing simply isn't as black-and-white as that of other Americans!
* Including Buddhists, but not "unaffiliated secular", agnostics, and atheists. That decision was Pew's, not mine.