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Gallup has come out with a new poll-map, by state, showing the importance of religion in Americans' daily lives. It seems that, on average, 65% of Americans consider religion important in their daily lives while 35% do not. Ohio ranks 25th, with Ohioans considering religion to be important in their daily lives by 65%.
Now compare Gallup's poll findings on religious importance to the electoral map for the 2008 presidential election.
Those who read this blog regularly already know where The Reverend stands on the topic of religion. I will always champion the right of all Americans to practice their religious beliefs as they see fit. At the same time I believe that religion, when taken seriously, as 65% of Americans obviously do, is needlessly divisive and socially destructive.
The most religious states, in order, are Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, Louisiana, Arkansas and Georgia. Those states, coincidentally or not, are also the same states that voted by the largest margins against President Obama. Of the top 15 most religious states according to Gallup, only North Carolina voted in the majority for Obama.
It is true, just as with religious practice, that Americans have the perfect right to vote for anyone they please, regardless of religious beliefs or state residency. Again, at the same time, it is hard to dismiss the correlation of Republican-voting states with the most religious states.
If you are part of the 65%, and usually bristle when reading criticisms of religion....or Republicans, you probably should stop reading about now.
During the presidential campaign, John McCain, representing the Republican Party, targeted, almost exclusively, the GOP base. The choice of Sarah Palin as McCain's running mate was made with this same base in mind. That base, as we see from the maps, is concentrated in the most religious states.
Generally, McCain campaigned on "more of the same" Republican dogma, particularly on national defense and economic issues. Sarah Palin campaigned similarly, although her rhetoric was much more abrasive. More tax cutting primarily benefitting big business, anti-reproductive choice for women, tough, militaristic talk aimed at Muslim countries, even further deregulation for the benefit of corporations, particularly Big Oil, more Supreme Court Justices like Roberts and Alito who favor the powerful at the expense of the weak, a big business-favoring plan for health care, and an overall respect for capital's rights at the expense of labor.
States with a high percentage of religious voters voted overwhelmingly for that platform....in some cases even in higher percentages than they did for Bush in the two previous elections.
The Christian Saviour, whom these religious voters worship, taught, almost exclusively, contrary to the GOP platform. Jesus spoke out against the powerful, the wealthy, the religious, the warmongers, the intolerant, the hypocrites,.....but he ALWAYS taught his followers to help the powerless, society's marginalized, the unclean, the poor, the outcasts, the oppressed. Jesus taught peace, not violence and war. Jesus spoke his harshest words to the most religious, those who elevated in importance the trivial over basic human concerns.
The American states where religion is seen as extremely important in daily life are the same states that voted overwhelmingly against the teachings of their Teacher. The American states where religion is regarded as extremely important in daily life voted overwhelmingly for our nation's most powerful and against the common human concerns of our nation's, and the world's, powerless.
These religious voters seek to defend their support for the powerful, the militaristic, and the wealthy by reverting to old pious sounding arguments over zygotes, taboo sexual orientations, fears of the "Other", "Christian" nation sponsorship of religious symbols, loving the sinner and hating the sin, defense of the Chosen at the expense of the ghettoized, and the use of violence for peaceful(!) purposes.
Wouldn't the Christian Master, if he were alive today on earth, say the same words he spoke to the most religious in his day? Wouldn't Jesus, today, still speak the same words to those who ALWAYS favored the powerful over the powerless in his day?