|Johann Baptist Metz, "Communicating a Dangerous Memory"|
For your consideration:
1. Pew Research Center has just relesed the results of a new poll about where Americans stand regarding religious liberty and non-discrimination. Some key findings:
1a. Among Catholics attending church weekly, 50 percent say that employers should be required to provide contraceptive coverage, and 44 percent say they should be free to withhold such coverage on grounds of religious belief.
Among Catholics who do not go to church weekly, 72 percent think that employers should be required to provide contraceptive coverage, and 27 percent say that they should be free to withhold such coverage on grounds of religious belief.
1b. Of Catholics who go to church weekly, 13% say contraception is morally wrong, while 45% say it is morally acceptable, and 42% say it is not a moral issue at all.
Among Catholics who go to church less often, 6 percent see contraception as morally wrong, and 39 percent see it as morally acceptable, while 51 percent view it as not a moral issue at all.
1c. 41 percent of Catholics attending church weekly think that business owners with religious objections should be required to provide services to same-sex weddings, while 51 percent say such business owners should be allowed to deny services to same-sex weddings on grounds of religious belief.
Among Catholics attending church less often, 59 percent think that business owners with religious objections should be required to provide services to same-sex weddings, while 40 percent say such business owners should be allowed to deny services to same-sex weddings on grounds of religious belief.
2. Charles Pierce comments on the Pew findings:
On Wednesday, the good folks at the Pew Research Institute produced a new study concerning what the Pew folks call the "growing tension" between religious liberty and the legal protections against discrimination. Now, it's been pretty clear here around the shebeen that the whole "religious liberty" thing is pretty much a shiny new wardrobe of camo for various monotheisms to go right on discriminating against gay people and to go right on meddling with the ladies and their ladyparts. But, fair enough. Pew is a good shop, undoubtedly sincere, and its findings are well worth a look. So, for the moment, we'll go along with the notion of this 'growing tension' as Pew defines it.
Turns out the argument is pretty much a draw, much to my surprise.
'Americans are evenly divided (49% to 48%) over whether wedding-related businesses, such as caterers and florists, should be required to serve same-sex couples who want to marry, even if the owner of these establishments objects to homosexuality for religious reasons. But views on this vary considerably based on frequency of religious service attendance. Among those who attend church weekly or more, support for requiring businesses to serve same-sex couples drops to 31%, while among those who do not attend regularly, it rises to 56%.' "
Note Charles Pierce's underscoring of a very salient finding here: But views on this vary considerably based on frequency of religious service attendance.
3. Mark Silk comments on survey data from fivethirtyeight.com: noting that we have already known from polling data that Americans with college degrees are more likely to support Hillary Clinton, while those without college degrees trend toward Donald Trump, we now learn from fivethirtyeight that that there's also a religious correlation complementing the education data, especially when we're looking at the presidential choices of white Americans. Mark sums this up:
Seventy-seven percent of non-religious-attending white college graduates support Clinton, as compared to 23 percent of weekly-attenders who never went to college. If they are religious attenders and have a college degree, they're far more likely to support Clinton than non-degree-holding weekly or occasional religious attenders.
In other words, Trump's white followers — which is to say, most of them — tend to be religious attenders who are "largely uneducated."
They're not poor. "Despite the myth that Trump’s base is poor whites," writes Beckman, "income is the least predictive of white voter support among the seven demographic variables tracked by the poll."
Again, note Mark Silk's underscoring of the phrases "religious attenders" as contrasted with "non-religious attending" white college graduates. White + regular attendee at religious services + largely uneducated: together, these three factors are highly predictive of who is supporting Donald Trump, according to these findings.
The question these data raise: where are less educated, religious-attending white people who are strongly supporting Donald Trump hearing that he's the candidate for them to support? An obvious deduction: many of them may well be hearing this in their religious communities. I would be strongly inclined to conclude that this is true beyond the shadow of a doubt in the bible belt, where Donald Trump's support is stronger than in any other part of the country — among white evangelicals.
4. Ed Mazza reports that at a rally in Iowa last evening, Mr. Trump bragged about his strong support among (white) Christian conservatives. He asked his Christian supporters at the rally to raise their hands. Then he asked those in the room who were not Christian conservatives to identify themselves.
Reading this article this morning, I thought immediately, "So when will he start handing out yellow stars at his rallies?"
Having read all of these reports, do you see why I chose that passage from Catholic theologian Johann Baptist Metz as the headers for this posting? (The essay is in Love's Strategy: The Political Theology of Johann Baptist Metz, ed. John K. Downey [Harrisburg, PA: Trinity International, 1999], p. 141.) What sort of faith, Metz asks, was it that allowed us to go on believing undisturbed in my all-Catholic village in Bavaria, when a concentration camp in which human beings were being murdered was only miles away from the village?
Was it a "purely believed-in faith," a faith devoid of real compassion that nevertheless prided itself on talking nicely about compassion, where the very pride one took in being a compassionate person of faith undercut his or her need to be an authentically compassionate person of faith? What does frequent church attendance do to human beings?
And what is church for, if those who attend church more often than anyone else appear to have the smallest minds and hearts when questions of momentous moral consequence confront a culture? I'm asking because I sincerely want to understand.