Evangelicals and Catholics: Is Alliance Fraying?

Some disturbing news from Steven Waldman . He is president and editor-in-chief of Beliefnet.com, and author of Founding Faith. His article shows that the extreme ignorance of Catholic faith often displayed by elected officials has spilled over to the voters as well. Education in these faith matters is urgently needed.

One of the leading myths about the 2004 election is that George W. Bush won mostly because of massive support from evangelicals.

Support of evangelicals wouldn’t have been nearly enough without his big victory among conservative Catholics and mainline Protestants. In the last few elections, we’ve seen the birth of a “Religious Conservative Alliance” that spanned different denominations, with Catholic conservatives behaving similarly to Protestant conservatives.

That may be changing. A series of new polls show that while Barack Obama has made very little headway among evangelicals – even moderate evangelicals — practicing Catholics are now distinguishing themselves from their evangelical allies.

In 2004, for instance, vast majorities of traditional white evangelicals (85%) and traditional white Catholics (70%) thought the war in Iraq was “justified.” Since then, conservative white evangelical support for the war has declined slightly to 76.8% but conservative Catholic support has plummeted to 46.8%, according to the National Survey of Religion and Politics conducted by John Green at the University of Akron. (By “traditional,” Mr. Green means those who attend church more and hold theologically traditional views).

Look, too, at gay marriage. In 2004, white observant evangelicals and Catholics were kindred spirits: 90% of these evangelicals supported “traditional marriage” and 72.9% of traditional Catholics did. But while evangelicals still hold those views, the ground has shifted tremendously for Catholics. About 86.6% of traditional white evangelicals still believe only in traditional marriage, while 58.4% of traditional white Catholics now do.

The percentage of traditional white evangelicals who want stricter environmental regulation fell 15 points while the percentage of traditional white Catholics went up 3.7 points!

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