Tag Archives: Religion

When a Democracy Goes Wrong

By: Heather Ellerbrock

The other day while driving in the car with my dad, he told me a story about a 16 year old who upon exiting the highway way to fast, hit a bump and proceeded to flip his car in the air over two lanes of traffic landing on a hill hundreds of feet away from where this all started. We then got into a conversation about how parents, teachers, etc. in response to such reckless driving from teenagers immediately provide a solution of raising the driving age instead if attacking the problem head on (i.e. require drivers ed for all and at least 1 year, from 15-16, of driving with a permit and so on). Then I saw this video made by Protect Families (the group responsible for Prop. 8 in California):

Despite the fact that I think this video is pure propaganda, just like the adults who believe the solution to reckless teenage driving is to raise the driving age, these parents believe banning gay marriage is the solution to ensure their young children are not taught it in school (instead of coming to a consensus with the school board and community, etc that waiting until sex ed to introduce the idea of homosexual marriage is a better idea…as, in the video, the parents themselves say). On a side note, notice these parents say that because gay marriage is legal and they disagree with it, it is only now they are bigots; and how can you teach gay marriage in mathematics?

Moving on…

After the conversation with my dad, and after viewing the video, I looked to a New York Times Article titled, “Mormons Tipped Scale in Ban on Gay Marriage” and this got me thinking. How can a democracy be the best answer when special interest groups are able to impose their views on an out-group in a totalitarian way? Now, I am in no way suggesting I do not believe in democracy. I am simply stating that it has become too easy for 48% to become an unrepresented minority. Furthermore, through the simplicities of putting  measures on ballots that represent special interests – in this case gay marriage – the line between church and state is becoming more and more gray each passing year. In reference to Prop. 8, a member who was part of the fund raising for the propositions passing had the following to say: “I ask for your prayers that this e-mail will open the hearts and minds of the faithful to make a further sacrifice of their funds at this urgent moment so that God’s precious gift of marriage is preserved.” Many will argue that if gay marriage was the majority, there would still be a ~48% minority that would disapprove of the measure. I say to them that at least they can marry the person they love.

So now, after talking to my dad, seeing the “Protect Families” video and realizing that the main reason Prop. 8 did not pass was in most part because of one special interest group, I then looked to Colorado who in the 2008 election actually tried to address this problem; at least when it came to constitutional initiatives (remember, in 2006 gay marriage was banned in Colorado). As most of you may recall, on Colorado’s ballot this year we had Ref. O which aimed to “make it harder” for constitutional initiatives to make it on the ballot. This would have included (1) a signature requirement amount equal to 6% of votes cast for most recent governor and (2) 8% of all signatures to be collected from each congressional district. Once again, and in a way that can only be seen a sheer irony, the minority that Ref. O was trying to protect lost by 48-52%.

In my opinion and judgment, this all boils down to religion. Now let me preface this with saying I am not attacking religion. I am saying that when it comes to issues that appear on ballots each year concerning gay marriage, abortion, etc., these measures are able to appear on the ballot from fund raising that mainly comes from religious institutions. And since they are not required (at least in Colorado) to gain signatures from all congregational districts, they can then pick and choose where they will most likely get signatures for the measure. Think about Amendment 48, it failed famously but was able to appear on the ballot. 1/6 of all Amendment 48’s “Yes” vote came from El Paso county alone (compare with 1/15 total of “Yes” votes coming from Denver). I wonder where the people who wanted the measure on the ballot focused their efforts?

A democracy goes wrong when we are able to put amendments on constitutions that take away rights from people. Instead of attacking the problem from the inside out and coming to a consensus, a small majority gets to define what life will be for other Americans. Just as most are irrational to think that raising the driving age to 18 will cure reckless “teenage” driving, the same people are just as irrational to think that denying rights to deserving American citizens is their right in our democracy.

7 Comments

Filed under American Electorate, Colorado, Religion, Uncategorized

Will Religion Hurt Obama?

By: Melissa Keller

I’m sure its no news to America that there is a major gap among politics when it comes to religion. But as America enters a unique time in history, my question to you is whether or not this will really make a prominent impact on the 2008 election. According to a gallop poll conducted in June of this year, it’s hard to say who will have the advantage in this upcoming election.

When looking at these statistics it seems as if both candidates have a fair chance in stealing the votes this year, but is that really the case? As much as I’d like to think so, after analyzing some of history’s data it makes it difficult to really come to a conclusion.

For instance, according to the JTA religious Jews support U.S. Sen. John McCain for president in much higher numbers than non-religious Jews. This might either be because of their religious beliefs, or like many studies have shown, is linked to the fact that many republican voters simply attend faithful services on a regular basis. It is a known fact that voters who attend to a church of some kind on a regular basis are more likely to vote republican than those who do not. People who attend a religious setting at least once a week have different values and morals than the average person who does not, which explains why they might side with the republicans.

“Forget the gender gap. The ‘religion gap’ is bigger, more powerful and growing. The divide isn’t between Catholics and Protestants, Jews and Gentiles. Instead, on one side are those of many faiths who go to services, well, religiously: Catholics who attend Mass without fail, evangelical Christians and mainline Protestants who show up for church rain or shine, some Orthodox Jews. On the other side are those who attend religious services only occasionally or never.” –Susan Page, USA Today

In fact, according to William Schneider the religion gap has become much larger than economic class when it comes to political division. He also states that this might not be whether voters believe one candidate is more religious than the other, but instead more of to what degree do they feel the candidate will allow faith to guide them in their decisions.

For instance, God lovers are indeed in love with current Vice Presidential Nominee Gov. Sara Palin. She inspires believers by relating her conservativeness to her strong religion and home life. What they see in her is a sense of hope for a better country, one that has faith. I have no doubt that with Palin on the ticket this November, McCain might actually have a chance in winning this thing.

Although the GOP has fallen in love with Palin, there’s still room for critics who constantly speculate the motives behind her decisions as Governor. For example her description of the natural gas pipeline from Alaska as a “blessing from God” seemed a bit extreme for some. Her strong beliefs also influence her values on current important issues such as gay rights and abortion. This has caught the eyes of many church goers who too have similar morals and opinion on the subjects.

Like I have said before, this pattern of voting habits have been present for years and as the number of church goers continue to grow, so does the chance of republicans winning every election. Here are some polls taken in 2004 on religious voting habits:

The more frequently Americans attend religious services, the more conservative they are likely to be, an examination of USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Polls found. Frequency of church attendance and how respondents viewed themselves politically:

Church attendance

Conservative

Moderate

Liberal

Once a week

54%

33%

13%

Almost every week

47%

39%

14%

Once a month

38%

42%

19%

Seldom

31%

45%

24%

Never

26%

40%

34%

Source: USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Polls taken from February 2003 to May 2004. More than 7,000 respondents combined from seven surveys; margin of error: +/- less than 2 percentage points.

The more frequently Americans attend religious services, the more likely they are to vote for republicans.

Bush

Gore

More than once a week

68%

32%

Once a week

58%

42%

Once or twice a month

41%

59%

A few times a year

40%

60%

Seldom

39%

61%

Never

35%

65%

Source: National Survey of Religion and Politics, University of Akro

If this voting pattern persists in the 08’ elections, does that mean it will be the end of Barack Obama?

2 Comments

Filed under Democratic Party, McCain, Obama, Republican