Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Sarah Posner on Religious Realignment and Yesterday's Election Results

I hope I'm not providing readers with an overdose of U.S. election commentary.  If so, I apologize, especially to the many good readers of Bilgrimage who log in from around the globe.  I know you're there, because I see you represented in the stats counter of this blog.

So much does seem noteworthy this morning, though, and so much of it has direct bearing on the religion-and-politics themes this blog tracks, that I want to keep posting tidbits in the hope that they'll be helpful as we all think about what yesterday's results mean for the future.  Here's very valuable commentary from Sarah Posner at Religion Dispatches last evening:

If you had listened to Ralph Reed or Tony Perkins, you might have thought the mighty values voters of 2004 were going to turn out in huge numbers and tip the election to Mitt Romney. Instead, he lost, as did the Republican Party's worst specimens in the culture wars, the rape apologists Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock. And marriage equality has passed in two states (as of this writing, Maryland and Maine), and pot was legalized in Washington and Colorado. (Brace yourself for tomorrow's apocalyptic conference calls, emails, op-eds, and press briefings.) 
But what went wrong for Reed, Perkins, et al.? 
They represent a coalition in decline -- white religious conservatives -- while Obama has a more diverse one, made up of various religious and non-religious voters, whites, blacks, and Latinos. This story has been emerging even before the election.

Posner notes that in Pennsylvania, while Romney won among white Catholics, Obama prevailed among Catholics as a whole.  She suggests (and I hope she's right) that, while the religiously fueled culture wars aren't going away anytime soon, a "religious realignment" is underway, in which the narrative about conservative evangelical and Catholic voters as the make-or-break constituency to be courted each election cycle is fragmenting.

If that's the case--and what else can a wide coalition of Latino Catholics, working-class whites in the rustbelt, women, young people, people of color, and LGBT folks mean?--then those centrist powerbrokers like Michael Sean Winters at National Catholic Reporter, who is still ludicrously arguing for the bishops' "religious freedom" crusade vs. Obama this morning, may have to start looking for new jobs.

Since the position they've long created for themselves as pretend liberals taming real liberals in the Catholic church and Democratic party while shilling for the religious right no longer matters very much, as the political clout of the religious right wanes.

P.S. Lila Shapiro reports at Huffington Post this morning (and I see the same story in quite a few other credible news outlets that Maine and Maryland both voted marriage equality in, while Minnesotans rejected the anti-marriage equality amendment to their state constitution.  She also states that once mail-in ballots have been counted in Washington, it appears marriage equality will have won there, too.  This alone speaks volumes about the waning political control of the religious right: it's historic news, in fact.

The graphic--Dr. King's statement about the arc of the moral universe from his memorial in D.C.--is from Timothy Forbes's photography website.  I don't see a statement on the website that Forbes's photos can't be used on blogs, but if any reader knows otherwise, please let me know.  In fact, I do see a share button at his site for reposting his wonderful photos at other sites.  I should also note that framed and unframed copies of the photos can be purchased through the website.

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