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Posted at 8:30 AM ET, 12/20/2010

Religious voters alienated by liberal agenda

By Jennifer Rubin

The piece examining religious voters' political affiliations by Tiffany Stanley in The New Republic is curious. She notices that religious voters have fallen away from the Democratic Party after the latter engaged in some successful outreach. But if one only read this article, one would be mystified as to why. It's not, I can assure you, because the Democrats shut down a bunch of campaign-style outreach efforts.

You have to imagine that value voters lack core convictions -- an obvious bit of cognative dissonance -- to miss why it is that religious voters disapprove of the Democrats these days. It's the agenda. Religious conservatives are staunchly pro-Israel. They don't like Obama's approach to Israel. They are pro-life; Obama has reversed the Mexico City accord, appointed two pro-choice Supreme Court justices and reversed Bush administration policies on stem cell research. Value voters have a commitment to "traditional family values;" the Democrats successfully championed the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell." Value voters bristle at efforts to restrict religious expression in the public square and at government interference with the free exercise of religion (e.g. they favor a conscience clause for health-care providers with regard to abortion and birth control). The administration has generally ignored such concerns. And finally, religious voters generally care deeply about religious freedom around the world; Obama's record is woefully deficient in this regard.

Moreover, religious voters have traditionally been suspicious of the power of the state. It comes as a shock to many on the left, but it is entirely understandable, that while the agenda is focused on fiscal matters, many in the Tea Party identify themselves as religious conservatives. Once again, the Obama administration and religious voters are at odds on fundamental policy issues.

So the real question is not why value voters have fallen away from Democrats, but why a significant number were lured into the Obama camp in the first place. I suppose they gave him the benefit of the doubt. But it is indicative of the left's fundamental lack of simpatico with religious voters that a liberal publication like TNR is clueless as to the reasons why so many of these voters have now reconnected with the party that shares their concerns.

And given the conflicts over substantive and deeply held policy views, there is, of course, another explanation as to why the Democrats' religious outreach failed: They were never serious in the first place. As with so many others enticed by fuzzy campaign rhetoric, religious voters are simply part of a long line of disillusioned voters (e.g. fiscal conservatives, immigration reform advocates, pro-Israel advocates) who thought Obama was something other than what he turned out to be.

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 20, 2010; 8:30 AM ET
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Great insight and right on the money.

Posted by: cajunkate | December 20, 2010 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Religious voters know a sect when they see one, and the Democrats are a sect if there ever was one. How else to explain their buzz word liturgy, their faith based belief in the big benevolent state and their tendency to shun and demonize all disbelievers or recalcitrants such as Juan Williams.

Posted by: ZoltanNewberry | December 20, 2010 8:58 AM | Report abuse

The Religious fled Europe looking for a place to practice their beliefs without Government interference. If those conditions are now lost here in the US,it's a good time to start looking for new diggs,because I'm pretty sure that the Agnostics,Secular Humanists,Situational Ethicists,Atheists,Liberals,and Socialists aren't going to allow the religious right to set up a theocracy here like they have done in the Islamic nations and Israel.

Posted by: rcaruth | December 20, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Funny how Ms. Stanley doesn't actually define 'religious' in her article. There is a reference to white evangelicals, but nothing to suggest whether observant Muslims, Hindus, Jews, etc. are included.

I'm not saying her conclusions are incorrect, only that it's a bit challenging to agree or disagree when the group she's writing about is so fuzzily defined.

Posted by: MsJS | December 20, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Jennifer says,"Religious conservatives are staunchly pro-Israel. They don't like Obama's approach to Israel."

On the other hand,Akiva Eldar says,
"America's self-loving Jews aren't helping Israel
A Jew who truly loves himself does everything possible in order to save Israel from itself."

"Yes, the irony is that AIPAC is liable to be the ruination of Israel"
Esther R

Posted by: rcaruth | December 20, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Excellent overview of the key issues that turn off religious voters.

"So the real question is not why value voters have fallen away from Democrats, but why a significant number were lured into the Obama camp in the first place."

Certainly some of the fuzziness came via Rick Warren's participation both in the candidate's forum with Obama and McCain and the friendliness between Obama and Warren that resulted in Warren's official participation in the inauguration. In effect, Warren loaned his "purpose driven" credibility to Obama.

Posted by: TD01 | December 20, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Give me hedonism over what the GOP is (faux) selling any day.

Posted by: danw1 | December 20, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Here's a perfect example of neocon Manichaeanism. Lump all Christians and conservatives together and exclude the progressives.

Sorry to pop your self-reflective bubble, but here's a lifelong devout Christian who works daily to promote the progressive agenda. Have for decades, and will until I draw my last breath. Stop me if you can.

Posted by: laboo | December 20, 2010 6:27 PM | Report abuse

Not that I wasted my time reading Ms. Stanley's TNR article - one thing one learns inside TNR world is the consistency of revulsion for Christian and Jewish religious conservatives, including pro-Israel TNR owner Peretz.

The truly bizarre aspect of TNR world is the PC kid glove treatment of religious Muslims, except for Peretz.

So, why is the liberal rump of the Dems alienating voters of faith? Real simple - they do not like being treated like aliens. The disagreements on policy are pundit-speculation.

Posted by: K2K2 | December 20, 2010 7:17 PM | Report abuse

Religion is the opiate of the masses.

Posted by: googleguy | December 20, 2010 9:09 PM | Report abuse

Another narrowly focused and harshly partisan article from Jennifer Rubin. She completely ignores:
1) The Christian-Left, which is pro-choice, supports gay rights, and follows the benevolent teachings of Jesus Christ, who did not condemn the adulteress and who willingly sat among the thieves and prostitutes in order to be a force of good in their lives without rejecting them.
2) The poor treatment of Muslims by the Republican party. While Muslims are typically socially conservatives, Republicans are flushing their support down the toilet by using them as a political punching bag.
3) Latinos, while are also typically socially conservative (but also progressing towards a more open minded society) are being flushed down the toilet by Republicans as well, meaning no Latino votes for Republicans. How do you think Harry Reid won re-election? Republicans were too busy demonizing Latino-Americans to notice that Latino-Americans actually vote.
4) The progressively more liberal direction that many Americans are choosing, especially the younger generation and issues like gay rights. The younger generation grew up with gays as peers and thus do not see them as the fictional "monsters" the dogmatic-right makes them out to be. Demonizing gays over the long term is a losing issue for Republicans, they see that in the coming generations it will only lose them votes.
5) As a consequence of #4, social conservatives are going to get thrown under the bus over and over by Republicans in order to avoid alienating the next generation of voters which is increasingly more accepting of Gay Americans. The repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell is only the beginning.

Best of all, the social conservatives in the Tea Party, which as you've said makes up a fairly large share of the group, are not going to be happy being thrown under the bus by Republicans. Those social conservatives will hijack the Tea Party agenda and put up unelectable candidates simply because they are extremely socially conservative candidates (Buck, Angle, O'Donnell). The socially neutral/fiscally conservative Tea Partiers will resent said hijacking; after all, had the social conservatives shut up and stayed in the back seat, Castle would have won Delaware and Harry Reid would not still be in office, instead Republicans lost what seemed like inevitable control of the 2010 Senate. Socially neutral/fiscally conservative Tea Partiers will begin to push back at the social conservatives, at which point you will have a full-blown intra-party war.

I will be there with a bucket of popcorn in hand.

Posted by: paulflorez | December 21, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

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