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neonez's avatar

Why is so much emphasis put on religion in the 2008 presidential election?

Asked by neonez (386 points ) January 26th, 2008

For some reason it just doesn’t bother me that candidate a’s uncle’s father was an atheist. As long as I agree with a candidates policies and I believe him/her to be able to fallow through with them, I don’t care if they worship the devil. What difference does it make if a president is a Jewish or atheist of whatever as long as they’re good at their job?! We manage to have a both a woman and an African-american likely to win the presidential race while no candidate has a chance if they aren’t Christians! Why are people so blind? When will this stop?! Can you tell that this irks me?

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6 Answers

tekn0lust's avatar

Because so many people participate in religion. What is it, something like 90+% of Americans believe in some form of religion and a God(s)? Seems like a demographic you’d want on your side if you wanted to gain a vote.

Forgive the simplicity here, but I think that a candidates religious affiliation conveys to a voter that they adhere to a certain set of beliefs and rules common to that voter. This gives that candidate an immediate advantage over one who has to put forth and explain their beliefs.

This irks me too, because I know many many people who profess to be of faith yet have an awful awful inside.

aaronblohowiak's avatar

the emphasis on religion does act to divide and mobilize certain segments of the population that vote in much higher numbers than the population at large. Further, religion is something that people have strong feelings about and claim to “know”. Economic policy, foreign relations, matters of governmental governance.. these things are boring to most people. The ‘average joe’ who perceives that academics are out of touch with him and other “common folk” may not feel ennobled or passionate about most matters of government. One of the things that religion does is provide a moral standard—if someone is in alignment with my religion (the simpleton thinks,) then he or she is going to do what I think is best. Some feel that the religion of one’s family members reflects or demonstrates their religious conviction.

thegodfather's avatar

You are probably hearing more about religion because the major focus right now is on the South. Researchers have found that 54% in the midwest and 51% of adults in the south attend church regularly compared to 41% in the northeast and 39% in the west (see http://www.barna.org/FlexPage.aspx?Page=Topic&TopicID=10). So there is clearly more attention in those states (Iowa, South Carolina, Michigan, Florida) for religion to be brought into the debate.

It doesn’t help any that Huckabee is very obviously pulling out the evangelical card at every chance. With a candidate running almost exclusively on his record as a Christian-politician, there’s bound to be more chit-chat in the media and on the ground about religion.

Finally, Mitt Romney is a Mormon and is currently leading in the number of delegates (he has almost double McCain’s count: http://www.cnn.com/elections). This is the first time in a long time that a Mormon contender has been taken seriously. In the past Americans typically just wrote off Mormons, but Romney is getting a lot of attention. So the religious atmosphere is certainly different than past election seasons.

I don’t think there are so many Americans thinking only along religious lines. Remember the silent majority rule: the minority is louder because it is the minority. I’ve read a couple polls that have indicated that some people voted along religious lines, but most didn’t. Yes, that’s hearsay on my part, but it’s what I’ve got on the top of my head. Hope this helps answer the question some.

cwilbur's avatar

Because a lot of voters use religion and things associated with it—“family values,” character, integrity—as primary determiners in their choice of candidates.

Because a lot of un-religious people have learned that religion is a very useful lever to move otherwise uncritical masses of people.

Indeed, I’ve seen one of those email forwards that attacks Barak Obama on the grounds that (according to the email’s slanted and bigoted analysis of various fragments of the Koran and Islamic teachings) Muslims can’t be good Americans, let alone good Presidents—which, if it were accurate, would be irrelevant, as Barak Obama is a member of the United Church of Christ. Very carefully calculated.

trainerboy's avatar

It keeps us from looking at the sexual scenarios going on!

berginger's avatar

I don’t know. John McCain doesn’t even go to church.

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