Tuesday, October 25, 2016

PRRI Releases 2016 American Values Survey, The Divide Over America's Future: 1950 or 2050? Some Initial Takeaways (Gender, Race, Religion, and Politics)

Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) has just released its annual American Values Survey. This year's report is entitled The Divide Over America’s Future: 1950 or 2050? Some important takeaways that have to do with topics we've been discussing here:

1. First, note the chart at the head of the posting, and how white evangelicals continue to stand out in American culture as they do, for instance, in their opposition to gay* rights when other religious groups have moved towards accepting gay rights. Here, white evangelicals stand out in their hankering for the lost golden age of the 1950s — when women knew their places, gay folks were securely shut away in closets, African Americans had not begun clamoring for their rights, and white evangelicals ruled the cultural and political roost.

Note how white evangelicals and Republicans are contiguous with each other at the extreme end of the chart, standing together looking backwards to the 1950s as the beautiful morning of America. As PRRI's summary of its findings states,

A majority (56%) of white Americans say American society has changed for the worse since the 1950s, while roughly six in ten black (62%) and Hispanic (57%) Americans say American society has changed for the better. . . . 
No group has a dimmer view of American cultural change than white evangelical Protestants: nearly three-quarters (74%) say American culture has changed for the worse since the 1950s.

2. And one guess as to which demographic category in the U.S. is most averse to "politically correct" language — i.e., to the civil adult obligation to start speaking of and to denigrated categories of human beings in respectful ways:

White males want to retain the "right" to talk ugly about everyone else, and to resist so-called "political correctness" which requires us to speak respectfully to and about each other. Sometimes (as in the case of the U.S. Catholic bishops) they wrap this "right" up in religious language and call it "religious freedom" or "religious liberty."

3. Both #1 and #2 go hand in hand with another finding of PRRI's survey:

Fewer than four in ten (37%) Republicans—including only 42% of Republican women—believe the country would be better off with more women holding public office. More than six in ten (62%) Republicans disagree [that the country would be better off with more women in office].

As a Facebook friend of mine and fellow Arkansan, Russell Brasel, has written in sharing the graphic at the top of the posting with his Facebook circle this morning, "Let's clarify that 'nostalgia for the 50s.' That would be the part of the decade before Brown v Board."

What do the Exodus narratives in the Jewish scripture call that hankering for a lost past that can never be retrieved again, and wasn't so wonderful to begin with — hankering for the fleshpots of Egypt? And, I seem to recall, they also call it idolatry.

*Gay = LGBTQI.

(Click the graphics and they will enlarge.)

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