With important election results still being counted, it is interesting to look at the ways Americans identify with different candidates. Often, religious groups tend to lean one way or the other when it comes to politics, which can affect how people vote. While the decision of who to vote for is ultimately a personal one, many people base their choices on a variety of factors, including their religion. This can be because beliefs tie into standpoints on political issues, which makes choosing a candidate an important moral decision for many people.
The Conservative End of the Spectrum
Generally seen as the more religious end of the spectrum, conservatives, or the “political right,” in the United States tend to be part of major Christian groups. Many notable conservative viewpoints are also held by large Christian groups, including opposition to increased LGBTQ rights, the desire for more stringent anti-abortion laws, promotion of individual liberty and traditional American values, and similar beliefs. Since a large chunk of the political right is made up of conservative religious individuals, the Republican party often uses these beliefs as a central part of its candidates' platforms to better appeal to voters. Evangelical Christians are one of the largest and most powerful religious groups in the United States. This group also tends to be one of the most conservative and is often a central supporter of Republican candidates and their decisions in office.
The Liberal End of the Spectrum
Liberals, or the “political left,” are often considered to be less religious than political conservatives in the United States. Interestingly, only about one-third of Democrats have identified themselves as non-religious, but a steady increase in those numbers has occurred over the past few years as more liberals seem to be gravitating away from organized religion. When questioning why liberals may be less religious, many people tend to believe that the political standpoints of conservative Christians may actually be pushing liberals away from religion. This may continue to happen as churches become entangled with political views that liberals disagree with.
While today liberal religious activism is frequently overlooked, it is important to remember that it still exists. In fact, many liberals are still religious. Historically, religious activism was the root of many more liberal reforms, such as increasing rights for laborers, supporting public safety, and offering relief for people in poverty. Many Christian religious values encompass both liberal and conservative political ideals.
An Overview of Religion and Politics
Of course, the religious landscape of the US is complicated, and there are many more religious groups than evangelical Christians. Interestingly, one of the most conservative religious groups is the Mormon Church, whereas one of the most liberal groups is the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Apart from these extremes, Catholics tend to sit near the middle of the spectrum, and Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and Muslims all tend to be more on the liberal side of things. Some of this could be because of more support for minority groups from liberal politicians. It is important to keep in mind that every group has outliers and no religious group is made up entirely of conservatives or liberals.
Religious affiliation often overlaps with political decisions. While the political right in the United States tends to align with evangelical Christians and other large religious groups, not every religion in the country agrees with their views. Liberals are often considered to be less religious, but they still tend to get a lot of support from many religious groups. While there are some stereotypes for both parties, neither is entirely made up of one group or another, and there is a lot of crossover from religious individuals of all kinds.