A ‘devoutness divide?’ Hell, no

A ‘devoutness divide?’

: Relevant to the Frist/filibuster/faith fun below, Dick Meyer at CBSNews.com says this is about “devoutness divide.”

What divides Americans politically is not feuds between sects, bigotry or prejudice. The antagonism is not between, say, Jews and Baptists or Catholics and Methodists. It is not between believers and atheists; the vast majority of voters consider themselves religious and believe in God. The gap is rather between churchgoers and non-churchgoers; it is between people who are very orthodox or traditional in their religious belief and those who are more individualistic in their worship or less orthodox. The chasm is not defined by what religion people belong to but how they practice their religion.

There is no God Gap. But there is a Devoutness Divide.

I know he’s talking about voting behavior and stats but I still disagree and dislike the way that is presented with the choice of the word “devout:”

All religious people are not conservatives (and all conservatives are not religous people [and all liberals are not godless]).

I go to church and I’m a liberal. My sister is a minister and she’s a liberal. I know lots of liberals who do, indeed, go to church.

I will also acknowledge that the growth in churches is in the conservative side and that’s a challenge for us liberals. Does that mean that conservatives and fundamentalists are taking over religion or does it mean that liberals are rejecting religion? I don’t know. Is the Republican Party being taken over by the religious? It looks that way, but I don’t know that that’s the case either; the religious right is vocal and organized and have made themselves into a force to be reckoned with, no matter how large that force really is.

But that doesn’t mean that either religion or the right has been taken over by the religious right.

It’s wrong to make gross generalizations that end up rejecting whole swathes of the population to make a point. Plenty of people who believe in God vote Democratic. Plenty of Republicans didn’t like what Delay and the fringe of their party did in the Schiavo matter or, I’ll bet, in Frist’s TV follies.

So don’t fall into the trap of assuming that Democrats are godless and Republicans are all on the religious fringe. It’s fine to fight the religious right fringe; I do; somebody has to. It’s fine for the religious right to fight for their side and use their political wiles to do so. That’s what makes America great.

But let’s not paint America now not as red vs. blue but as churchgoing vs. not. It’s just not true.

: Dick Meyer just emailed me and said I got this completely wrong. (Can’t quote from the email now because I’m challenged, connectivity wise, but I will.) Andrew Tyndall called me on it in the comments, too.

I wasn’t strong enough above, then, saying that I know he’s talking about voting behavior.

What I’m objecting too, in the end, is the word “devout.” As I joked with Andrew, even Unitarians can be devout. I think devout is a loaded word that connotes the idea of being more religious and that is the notion I reacted to and I used Meyer as a launching point for that.

I didn’t mean to get him wrong and I apologize.

: I got around tech limitations at MSNBC and here’s the salient and correct quote from Meyer’s email:

… I indicated quite clearly that the vast majority of American voters are religious. And the most opinionated part of the piece, at the bottom, argued that religious poeple who are both traditional and who are untraditional (liberal and conservative) have much more in common than our politicians and politicized clergy would have us think. And yes, there is no disputing that liberals are religious and church-going, too. But there is also no disputing that the greater the frequency of church-attendance, the higher the odds of voting GOP; sorry, it’s a fact.

So here’s an odd contention: Church attendance is not a measure of devoutness, in my view and I know that is a minority view). Religion is personal and need not be institutional and should not be judged on the basis of such open indications as church attendance or eagerness to talk about religion or willingness to incorporate religion with politics.

That was what I was trying to say. But clearly, I failed. I’m going to blogger hell…