Religious Vote Loses Strength in US Elections

Religious Vote Loses Strength in US Electionsi
|| 0:00:00
...  
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
November 08, 2012 6:19 PM
Religious values took a back seat to the economy in this election. Neither candidate spoke much about faith. But researchers say young voters, including young religious voters averse to mixing religion and politics, were key to re-electing President Barack Obama.
Religious values took a back seat to the economy in this election.  Neither candidate spoke much about faith.  But researchers say young voters, including young religious voters averse to mixing religion and politics, were key to re-electing President Barack Obama.

Fervent young Christians prayed in a park near the White House as Americans voted to re-elect President Barack Obama.  But it was a free-form kind of worship with no place for political slogans or banners. The Reverend Patrick Mahoney, who helped organize the event, wanted Mitt Romney to win, but was willing to take the election's outcome in stride.

"We'll work with the president on issues we can work on," he said.  "He's our president. We'll respect the office. We'll pray."

On the other side of the White House, other Christians were already praying inside a tent within view of the president's office.  The state of the economy may have concerned most Americans in this election. But for religious voters like those who participated in prayer marathons, like this one behind the White House, values issues were at least as important.

"I believe in the sanctity of marriage and the sanctity of life and our current administration does not uphold those values," said Barbara Potts who took part in the prayer vigil.

And yet here too, younger worshippers, including prayer organizer Jason Hersey, refused to talk about specific issues or candidates.

"I did vote this morning, and in this context and this place we really felt that this was hallowed ground, that there is only one name that is to be spoken from this place, the name of Jesus," said Hershey.

At the Public Religion Research Institute, Dan Cox studies the role that faith played for the electorate at large.

"Although it definitely played a secondary role or a supporting role to the economy and jobs, I think it was important if we look at it as more of a chapter in a larger story that's unfolding," said Cox.  "And what I mean here is the dramatically changing religious landscape."

Religious conservatives were decisive in past Republican victories, and are still an important part of the party's base.

But one in five Americans, according to a recent poll, do not identify with a specific religion, and this group is predominantly young.

While many are still deeply spiritual, they lean toward the Democratic Party and tend to be socially liberal, says Cox.

"Although they still don't turn out in high numbers as in other groups - so they're only about 12 percent of voters in 2012 - they are making a difference," Cox noted.

Cox notes that they were crucial in passing ballot measures in several states that favored legalization of marijuana and same-sex marriage.  And he predicts they will be a growing electoral force in years to come.

Jerome Socolovsky

Jerome Socolovsky is the award-winning religion correspondent for the Voice of America, based in Washington. He reports on the rapidly changing faith landscape of the United States, including interfaith issues, secularization and non-affiliation trends and the growth of immigrant congregations.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs