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Non Religious Voters

By Brandon - Posted on 16 March 2009

Some interesting statistics courtesy of the National Journal about a growing voting bloc that receives very little attention, the non religious.  

Americans who identify themselves as "religiously unaffilliated"  have grown from 5.3 percent of voters in 1988 to 12 percent in 2008.  That makes them a bigger bloc than Hispanics (9 percent), the gay vote (4 percent), the Jewish vote (2 percent) and just a little below the African American vote (13 percent).

If this group is totally lost to our party, then we will have trouble ever regaining certain states like Washington, Oregon and Vermont where the percentage of this group is even larger and could perhaps even swing an election.  Now this does not mean that these voters are all atheists although people who identify themselves is such are included in this number. But it also includes those who are simply non religious or just don't consider themselves part of any faith tradition.

As someone who would consider themselves very religious, I'm uncertain how the Republican Party can attract voters like this and hang on to voters like me who still represent a bigger voting bloc especially in the South.  

But I know we better find a way and find a way quick. 

It is about selling ideas and solutions to hit your target audience.

On abortion for example,  the goal is to reduce the number of abortions performed is it not?  Reducing/eliminating reasons that they occur in the first place will go a longer way (at least in IMO) than just simply saying it's wrong or murder.  Attack the problem @ the root.  Then also attack it from the other angle by working with planning groups to highlight adoption as an answer.  Either help someone avoid the issue or help them understand how they can address the situation they are in.   I think trying to legislate morality by taking away a person's choice or demanding it be taken away alienates more than it would ever reasonate.  That whole fly with honey/vineager thing. 

Not too mention that we are bombarded with constant reminders of the ultrareligious and their hypocrisy when it comes to their lives.  Everyone is human and falliable but to point fingers and tell people how they should behave is useless.  Explain why people should behave in a certain, what the benefits are as well as outcomes.  We as Republicans have to learn to how to stop preaching at people and learn to talk with them understand their points of view and develop strategies that will appeal.

Just my 2 cents being quasi - religiously affiliated. 


Very well said Mary.

As a non-religious voter myself the party is doing nothing to get votes when it seems like they keep towing the party farther right. They try to dictate to the rest of us how it would be better if this or that was their way no exceptions. I am a moral person who cares for others and i've never needed religion to be that way, so when they all BS about non-conservatives being immoral it ticks me off. It's especially frustrating when some of the very people telling us that have not been so high and mighty themselves. There are a lot of religious people who also aren't conservative and they get told they aren't in essence real Christians, Catholics etc...

I can tell you it also repels the people who take education seriously because of the attack on science and evolution. That goes back to the party moving farther to the right though. They seem to be advocating less seperation of church and state while also trying to pull the same BS about less goverment. How can you have less government if you inject it with religious ideology when a good portion of that society doesn't believe fully in those ideals?

I like your balance on abortion, Mary.  Though not in favor of it, I oppose making it illegal.  I've always felt that outlawing it is pointless, sort of like Prohibition.  We'll never be free of it, but the only sound way to reduce its incidence is to deal with the source issues.  Making it desirable to bear a child to term is much to be preferred over forcing a woman to do so. 

Our son & daughter-in-law, unable to conceive, have adopted in an open adoption process.  Our grandson is everything we could ever hope for, and it is also good to have his birth mother in the picture.  We are so grateful that she chose life, but we could not imagine forcing the issue.

Legislating morality seems to be a major preoccupation of the GOP, and they need to back off that track if they are ever to become viable again.

I totally agree with you.  The republican party has gone so far to the right that you can't even see them on the landscape anymore.  I am a dem, but there are plenty of Rep. that I respect and would vote for.  I just saw Chuck of my personal favorite R.  being interviewed and he said, when a public official takes the oath of office, it's not to one's party, it's to thier country.  I had hoped he would be in Obama's adm.  perhaps Defense Sec. at some point.  If I were a rep. I would be scared for my party when 3 presidential candidates raised their hand that they don't believe in evolution. 
I saw Hagel's interview on Rachel Maddow too, liz.  Many of us here hoped for a place in the administration for him.   If anyone has a chance to catch Rachel's show tonight, it was a good one.

As one who is strongly Christian, I think that until the message of the GOP is based on governmental issues instead of religion, they will just sink further into the losers column. 

To be honest, given the immoral/illegal actions of many of those who use religion to gain votes, I believe that the religious among us are being used to further a decidedly non-religious agenda.  We are beginning to see the result of that play out before our eyes.

When we allow religious beliefs, yours or mine, to dictate governmental policy, we are no different from the Muslim nations that war among themselves for power.  I don't want any part of it.

"When we allow religious beliefs, yours or mine, to dictate governmental policy, we are no different from the Muslim nations that war among themselves for power.  I don't want any part of it. "

Exactlty, I was going to use that example. The worst of the wingnuts who rail against extreme islam seem to be some of the same people who want Christianity to play a larger role in our government. They don't seem to see the irony.

As long as the Republican party tries to present itself as a (the) "Christian" party it will continue to lose voters.

They will lose the voters who don't want to get anywhere near a theocracy, the non-christians, the atheists and the christians who notice that the only morality that the Republican party seems to care about deals with sex.

It doesn't present itself as caring for the poor or the disenfranchised, or show any dismay at the practice of ursury.  Outside of a few issues such as prayer in school and abortion, it is hard to see any "Christian" values within the Republican party right now.  From a casual perusal one would think that the Republican party believes only in the sanctity of what is an obvious, straight forward benefit to business, the bigger and more entrenched the better. Any multistep benefit (a well educated, healthy population and environment) is looked on as a government handout rather than an investment in the country.  I'm not referring to the buyouts when I am talking about business, by the way, I am referring to the system of regulations and controls placed on business that were supposed to prevent this current fiasco from happening.

For quite a number of years, there has been a litmus test to determine who is a Republican and who is not.  It is based on a modernist version of Christianity.  Perhaps the best example of this is President Obama himself, who, because he does not belong to a church that bases it's Christianity on these two issues, is villified and excoriated by the religious right.  A lot of us can recognize his Christian credentials very quickly but they do not seem to be as important as whether he shares their view on two issues.

I've been up against this "new inquisition" myself and know how obnoxious it is, but is has become a foundation of Christianity.  Until government service is based on service to the people represented and not propogation of beliefs, people who don't agree with those beliefs won't vote for them.

I've been up against this "new inquisition" myself and know how obnoxious it is, but is has become a foundation of Christianity.

I don't know how political Protestants are outside the US, but this is certainly true of American Protestants. All they need to decide whether someone is "pro-killing-infants" is if there's a D next to their name...


It's sad that we've reached a point where 'government service' is a dirty word... If we're the greatest country on earth, maybe we can have the greatest government.

Lewis Black

I'm a non-religious Republican.

I think that Barack Obama said it best in his book:

"What our deliberative, pluralistic democracy does demand is that the religiously motivated translate thier concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. It requires that their proposals must be subject to argument and amenable to reason. If I am opposed to abortion for religious reasons and seek to pass a law banning the practice, I cannot simply point to the teachings of my church or invoke God's will and expect that argument to carry the day. If I want others to listen to me, then I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all."

 Just as an example.

Oh, and I like this bit too, found right above the preceding paragraph:

"To say that men and women should not inject thier 'personal morality' into public-policy debates is a practical absurdity; our law is by definition a codification of morality, much of it grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition."

 This is a point which I've been arguing for years every time someone brings out that tired old cliche "you can't legislate morality". 

"For those who plan with audacity and execute with vigor, 
progress is the magnificent by product." 

By "you can't legislate morality" is implied that you can't legislate your morality, or better said, impose your morality onto others; which is exactly his first point.
^^^  What he said!

Except we do it all the time. And that wasn't his first point (the two parts are actually reversed from my quoting in Audacity of Hope).

It is immoral to let the poor and the elderly starve so we feed them, through government action if necessary. It is immoral to allow people to not make a living wage so we guarantee a minimum wage.

I'm sure that I could come up with lots of other examples if you insist. 

"For those who plan with audacity and execute with vigor,
progress is the magnificent by product." 

According to one of the "scary" letters from the future of an Obama administration, in a couple of years congress is going to pay the "Gays Get Two Votes Act."  This should help tilt the electoral composition, and perhaps create some sort of quasi-multi-level effect equilibrium.
You mean those letters from James Dobson and Focus on the Family??
That reminds me, one of the tactics of the Unification (Moon) church is that their members are allowed to lie to the world, in complete contradiction to the Bible. I wonder if groups like FotF have staffers from that cult.

Which also reminds me, I haven't seen Nightporch on the forums for a while.


It's sad that we've reached a point where 'government service' is a dirty word... If we're the greatest country on earth, maybe we can have the greatest government.

Lewis Black

Np has been in and out infrequently lately.  She's done this before under another name.
Actually I was just trying to make a joke.  This was from a different post.  Dobson and FotF were worse.  They implied the Boy Scouts would disband because scouts would be required to sleep in the scoutmasters tent.
What "scary letters" are y'all referring to?  Do you have a link about them?

Suzi, here's the most infamous one, the predictions for 2012,

October 2008 was a rough month with the hate-mongering at the Republican rallies and stuff like this.  I did a lot of praying that month.:)

OMG!  I didn't even finish reading religion has tended to be in my experience...the letter is both laughable and frightening!  Obviously there are several things that obviously have not taken place in the timeline that was suggested.  Three new supreme court justices by Oct of this year...woo hoo!  LOL  On a serious note my deepest concern is that there are plenty of very religious and fear based people in this country that allow themselves to be indoctrinated with this type of information and it does nothing but cultivate the anger, rage, fear and seperation that has been perpetuated for many years now and dare I say at a simmering boil.  God help us all!


Ps: I have to just say I love the little "math test" before you can's as if is says:

If you are not at least this can not post here!

I love it!~

lephead thanks for the post...I wil read on...but I just had to quickly note a part I just read....anti-gun and pro enviromentalist...what a horrible

I'm sorry, didn't jesus tell us to turn our spears into plow shares and that God gave us dominion over the earth (excuse me...I take that mean to responsiblilty not ours to desecrate)

The 2016 letter is a joke mocking the original Focus On the Family letter...

Of course the 2016 letter is a joke!  But it is quite humorous!

The sad part is the original Fotf letter is seriously representative of what these people want to portray through their fear. bad.

I realized that I as I read on.

Unfortunately, the sad reality is that you people here have proposed logical suggestions about how the Republican party should act, but the party has lately been performing with anything but logic.

So is there anyway to bridge the gap between the hardcore Religious Right and the moderate former Republicans or is the gulf just too wide?

After the horrible defeat of 2008, I was hoping there would be an effort to try and bring back RFO types to the party, but that is not happening at all and if anything we are moving in the other direction. 

Most of my Republican friends don't understand why I read and try to contribute to this forum and certainly didn't understand why I wanted to come back here after the election was over. One told me recently that mixing moderates and "true Republicans" would be like mixing vanilla ice cream and horse manure and wondering why one taste dominated.

Someone the other day asked me that didn't I think we should try and convince more people especially the young and minorities to become social conservatives rather than change the party to attract less conservative types.  Most days I think that trying to make the party more mainstream is the correct course, but I honestly have to admit that some days I have my doubts that can ever be done. 

Perhaps one of the lessons of democracy that doesn't appeal to the ideologues is that you can't always have your way and you won't always get it.  Sharing is a difficult thing in life.  Some just can't handle it.  They don't like that there are other people who are different with other ideas.  A few manage to see out from under this.

"All I want is everything"

Brandon, I admire you, man, I really do. You seem now to understand that you can be pragmatic (read practical) without giving up your ideological beliefs.

The way forward for the GOP, and I would like to see the party move forward and become a viable national party again, is not to try to change people's ideologies, but to be pragmatic and inclusive of those ideologies.

I realize there are certain ideologies (pro-abortion, pro gay marriage, for example) that the GOP cannot adapt to, and I completely understand that. But, I think a significant majority of the electorate lies in the middle of the political spectrum, and those are voters the GOP can and MUST take in to become viable again. The idea of mass changing of people's ideological beliefs is just a pipe dream, and a recipe for disaster if ever there was one.

Brandon I agree with WColin.  The fact that you are willing to take the time to try to change things proves you are better than and above the bad crap.

Brandon, you've certainly come a long way, and that makes me happy and proud.  I think the thing is for all of us in the GOP is to accept that everyone doesn't think alike on all issues, and that we have to be willing and able to accept that.  Those of us who are now considered moderates actually hold the older, "true" Republican ideals that have been lost over the last 20 years or so.  (To us, we are the vanilla ice cream, and the far right is the manure.:-)

Attempting to change the young voters to social conservatives is probably a lost cause before it is begun.  Most young people today are very accepting of gay relationships, and a woman's right to choose, even when it doesn't relate to them.  The see these issues as human rights issues, and are so accepting of that they don't actually give it much thought.  It just is.

As for having doubts, I can relate.  I've been going through a lot of that lately.  (Read my latest post at TLC )   Thank you for continuing to try, and for believing in mainstreaming the party.  That takes guts.

Thanks for your kind words wcolin, lephead and Suzi!

While my own personal beliefs remain staunchly conservative, I truly believe we have to make the party more mainstream if we are ever to have national success again.  I just get discouraged when I go to other sites and so many seriously think we need to move even further to the right.

I can only hope that most of those who post at places like freerepublic, townhall and are just a loud minority and that there are lots more silent Republicans that understand that our party is in danger of dying out if we continue down this path.

I just don't understand the thinking behind the idea that they're losing because the aren't far enough  to the right. I mean economically it makes sense with the spending of both parties, but they mean socially too and that just won't work with the middle. Especially when the marginalize education and science at the same time....


"There is a real and growing theological polarization in American society," according to scholars at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., who have just published the American Religious Identification Survey 2008 (ARIS), a large, respected study that was previously conducted in 1990 and 2001.

The piety poles are these: 34 percent of the population believes they are "born again" while 25-30 percent does not believe there is a "personal divinity" at all. 

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