GOD ONLINE: Exploring media spirituality

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The faith-based vote

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Faith and religion permeated this U.S. presidential election perhaps more than any other — and was probably scrutinized more systematically than ever, too. Here were three of the best studies.

The exceedingly sharp Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life went beyond blogging to actual numbers. Its poll on How the faithful voted looked at seven faith groups. Among the surprises: Most Catholics voted for Barack Obama, although they favored George W. Bush in 2004.

More tools are available on ReligionLink, a resource site for reporters but free for anyone. Its article Barack Obama and the future of religion and politics glitters with various facets of the election. One is the fascinating CNN exit poll, which teases out religious motives as well as others.

The ReligionLink article also looks religious-moral issues: poverty, the economy, gay marriage, the environment, the war in Iraq and the future Supreme Court. One segment even assesses Sarah Palin’s chances for president in 2012.

Jay Toalson of U.S. News & World Report sounds like a prophet in his indepth study of religion and the election, way back in June. He accurately said that religious blocs were too complex to land snugly in either candidate’s back pocket. And he said foreign policy statements wouldn’t win religious votes any more than non-religious ones.

Ethicist David Gushee may raise your eyebrows with his opinion that not enough religion came up in the campaign. He wanted to hear more on “how a candidate’s personal faith informs their moral values and, in turn, their policy choices.” What he heard was “guilt by association” — Obama’s former attendance at Jeremiah Wright’s church, Palin for having once been a Pentecostal.

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Written by Jim Davis

November 6, 2008 at 5:34 am

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