Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Evangelicals Walking Away From Hard Line GOP Ideas?

by Joel Wendland

It's probably too early to tell, but one survey conducted by Beliefnet suggests evangelical Christians, many who identify as Republicans, are ready to break with that party's core values.

The survey found:

that 85-percent of evangelicals ranked the economy and “cleaning up government” as the most important or very important issues, compared to 61-percent who said the same about ending abortion and 49-percent who identified “stopping gay marriage” as a top issue.

While only 41 percent of evangelicals identified themselves as Republicans (the rest evenly split as Democrats and presumably Independent/other), "80-percent said they attended church weekly or more than weekly and 84% said the Bible is the 'inerrant word of God.'"

Still, they appear to views causes and issues associated with the left, the people's movements, and/or the Democratic Party as most important, while causes associated with right-wing politics fell lower on the list.

Here's the break down (percentage given indicates the percentage of respondents who ranked that issue as important or very important):

The economy (85%)
Cleaning up government (85%)
Reducing poverty (80%)
Improving public education/access to health care (78%)
Protecting the environment (70%)
Ending torture (68%)
Ending Iraq war (67%)
Ending abortion (61%)
Combating sex and violence in the media and entertainment (59%)
Illegal immigration (59%)
Stopping gay marriage (49%)
Helping Africa (48%)
Winning Iraq war (46%)
Fighting Islamic radicalism (58%)

Health care, ending the war, and poverty ranked higher than immigration, abortion, and gay marriage among evangelicals as important or very important.

This is a huge change over 2004 when, as you may recall, evangelicals are credited with having swept Bush back into office highlighting the war and anti-gay attitudes.

Evangelicals who identify as Democrats favor Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton by more than two-to-one.

Disclaimer: The science of this survey is unclear. The article calls the it an online survey, but doesn't describe it in detail. A better description of the poll is needed to judge its validity.

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