by Edd Doerr, president, Americans for Religious Liberty
‘Religious Right’ are politically stronger than ever
James Haught’s March 22 article, “Cultural change is slow but deep,” accurately reported demographic shifts in religion in America, but that’s not the whole story. The “nones” or religiously unaffiliated may be 20 percent of our population now, but in the November 2014 elections — in which only 36 percent of eligibles bothered to vote — exit surveys showed that only 12 percent of voters were “nones.”
Further, while very conservative churchgoers, usually labeled the “Religious Right,” are diminishing somewhat in numbers, they are politically stronger than ever. They and their political allies nationwide have:
1. Advanced their agenda of diverting public funds to faith-based private schools through vouchers and tax credits, even though American voters between 1966 and 2014 have rejected such measures by an average 2-to-1 margin in 28 state referendum elections from coast to coast; and this is damaging the public schools serving 90 percent of our kids.
2. Increased restrictions on women exercising their rights of conscience and religious freedom when deciding to terminate problem pregnancies for medical or other serious reasons.
3. Denied climate change – involving carbon dioxide buildup in the atmosphere, resource depletion, toxic waste accumulation, deforestation, desertification, soil erosion and nutrient loss, rising sea levels (40 percent of world population lives in coastal areas), shrinking biodiversity, and increasing sociopolitical instability and violence, all of which is fueled by human overpopulation – thus endangering our whole planet.
4. Increased federal and state court rulings that undermine the constitutional church-state separation that protects the religious freedom of each and every one of us.
There is indeed a culture shift, but our country is not out of the woods by a long shot. Americans of all persuasions — Protestants, Catholics, Jews, the “nones” and others — need to work together to stop the erosion of our basic values before it is too late.
(Note: Jim Haught is editor of the Gazette, and he and I are both columnists in Free Inquiry.)