This country was founded on the principle of separation of Church and State. However, the true extent to which this separation is enforced and what religious freedoms are protected under the law have long been items of controversy. Overall, the Democratic Party is less religious than the Republican Party. Democrats are more likely to push for a more defined separation of Church and State than Republicans are. Democratic views on religion stand strictly against the profiling of any individual for their religious beliefs. All religions should be safe from unfounded accusations. They also stand strictly against imposing any religious beliefs or practices on those who don’t necessarily support them. Over time, this belief has evolved into a phenomena referred to as the “God Gap,” where people who are not religious tend to be Democrats whereas people who are religious tend to be Republican. Democrats believe that the only faith-based organizations that should receive federal funding are those that are successful in serving federal funding goals, such as treating addiction or helping the homeless. Many Democratic initiatives to limit federal involvement in religious issues have been deemed a “war on religion” by Republican adversaries.
Democrats and Religious Marriage
The 2012 Democratic Party Platform states that Democrats support “freedom of churches and religious entities to decide how to administer marriage as a religious sacrament without government interference.” The Democratic Party does not support forcing clergy and religious organizations to perform marriages that they oppose on religious grounds. Therefore, while the government may require secular institutions to honor same-sex marriage, it will not require religious organizations to perform them. This is one of the few points on which Democrats and Republicans agree.
Democrats and Religious Discrimination
Democrats strongly oppose all discrimination in regards to religion. They believe that religious profiling stands on the same level as racial profiling and therefore needs to be eliminated. They also seek more extreme repercussions for those who target victims based on their religion, stating, “Racial and religious profiling is wrong and we will work to stamp it out. Hate crimes desecrate sacred spaces and demean good people, and we support a strong national law to punish them.”
In 2012, the decades-long battle between Republicans and Democrats seemed to come to a head when the 2012 Democratic Platform entirely excluded the word “God.” Republicans responded by accusing Democrats of waging a “war on religion.” Ryan Classen, a political scientist at Kent State University, has studied the growing religious gap between the parties. In an interview with The Washington Post, Classen explained his findings. While most explain the phenomenon through the fact that Christian Right organizations mobilized religious activists on behalf of the Republican Party, which caused a reaction from secure Americans towards the Democratic Party, Classen believes differently.
Classen explains that Republican evangelicals have not mobilized as much as they have simply become a larger part of society. This group has a large birthrate, and a large percentage of children of evangelicals identify as evangelicals as adults. There has also been an increase in the number of evangelicals voting, something that Classen attributes to the fact that larger percentages of children are growing up with proper educations. Therefore, it is quite possible that the “God Gap” has simply been born out of population trends, not out of political actions.
In fact, Classen points out, not all religious people have trended towards the Republican Party. Most religious individuals that are anything except evangelical Protestants have trended towards the Democratic Party. In recent elections, there are Democratic trends in every major religious tradition except for Evangelical Protestants. This isn’t really acknowledged by those that claim the Democrats are waging a war on religion.
Other studies have shown a rise in the number of “religiously unaffiliated” individuals, including atheists, agnostics, and those who don’t have any religious identity. These individuals are far more likely to join the Democratic Party than the Republican, further fueling the religious gap between the parties.
Religion and the 2012 Democratic Party Platform
While the controversy surrounding religion is not as extreme in 2016 as it once was, the 2012 Democratic Party Platform sparked much of the controversy that remains today. The platform stated, “Faith has always been a central part of the American story, and it has been a driving force of progress and justice throughout our history. We know that our nation, our communities, and our lives are made vastly stronger and richer by faith and the countless acts of justice and mercy it inspires. Faithbased organizations will always be critical allies in meeting the challenges that face our nation and our world—from domestic and global poverty, to climate change and human trafficking.”
However, it goes on to draw the line as to where the government’s relationship with a religious organization should start and end, stating, “We believe in constitutionally sound, evidence-based partnerships with faith-based and other non-profit organizations to serve those in need and advance our shared interests.” Under this clause, Democrats are requiring success of faith based organizations in the areas that they are serving in order to require government funding. For example, a religious teen-drug-addiction program should be measured according to its degree of success in treating addiction before it can become federally funded.
Democratic Views on the Religious
While Democratic views on religion strongly support religious equality and religious freedom, it seems that many Democrats have let their personal opinions be swayed by party differences. \\ A 2006 Gallup poll asked Americans to rate a series of ten religious groups on a positive to negative scale based on the question, “We’d like to know how you feel about people of different religious or spiritual groups in the United States. Please say whether your overall view of each group is very positive, somewhat positive, neutral, somewhat negative, or very negative.”
For the most part, Republicans reported more positive images of the religious groups listed than Democrats did.
The differences were particularly large for Evangelical Christians, Fundamentalist Christians, and Baptists, but are also evident for such groups as Catholics and Jews. Democrats and Republicans were equally likely to have positive opinions of Muslims and Scientologists. Democrats were somewhat more likely than Republicans to have a positive opinion of atheists, although neither group rated atheists especially positively.
- How Democrats became secular and Republicans became religious. – The Washington Post
- The 2012 Democratic Party Platform: Religion, Women, and Children – Verdict
- Religious ‘Nones’ Achieve Dominancy in Democrat Party – Breitbart
- Democrats View Religious Groups Less Positively Than Republicans – Gallup
- Republican Views on Welfare
- Democratic Views on Gay Rights
- Little Sisters of the Poor Is About Obama Restricting Religious Freedoms
- Democratic Views on Gay Marriage
- Democratic Views on Poverty
- Democratic Views on the Federal Budget
- Democratic Views On Israel
- Republican Views on Foreign Aid
- Democratic Views on Welfare
- Democratic Views on Medicare