The past eight years have seen a dramatic transformation in the relationship between religion and politics. The watershed year was 2004, when the “God gap” is said to have reached its peak. In that year, post-election pollsters claimed that a significant majority of religious voters voted for politically conservative candidates rather than candidates who were progressive or liberal.
In fact, the “God gap” was somewhat of a mischaracterization. The truth is the gap resulted in part from exit-poll questions that limited “values” questions to a few wedge issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage, rather than including other values choices such as poverty, the environment, and the Iraq war. Subsequent polling by Zogby, which did present a more expansive list of “values” issues, showed that religious voters were more culturally and politically diverse than the headlines claimed.
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Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite
Director, Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative