Secular Right | Reality & Reason

TAG | demographics

Dec/10

11

Israel’s demographic future

As I noted in my review of Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth (also see John Derbyshire’s review) “In 1960 15 percent of elementary age students in Israel were Arab or Haredi. In 2010 ~50%….” Additionally, while the Arab Israel TFR has been dropping, that of the ultra-Orthodox has not. In 2001 30% of births in Israel were to Arab Israelis. In 2008 25% were. The difference was a function of dropping Arab fertility combined with no decrease among the ultra-Orthodox. Projecting current trends 40 years the Haredi will be a majority of Israelis. I don’t think this projection is reasonable though, at some point the lack of proportionate Haredi participation in the labor force will result in a fiscal crisis and the Israeli nation will have to restructure itself.

Apr/10

3

Who Will Inherit The Earth?

The idea that fecund religious fundamentalists will (eventually) take over the world is not a new one, but it gets a fresh airing in a new book by Eric Kaufmann discussed in this interesting (if vaguely leftish) piece from the UK’s New Humanist magazine (yes, it’s a mildly depressing title for a magazine, but what can you do?).

 It’s always necessary to be careful about population projections, but statistics such as these are indeed striking:

 In his American chapter Kaufmann goes to some lengths to describe the huge, and hugely unexpected, growth rates of sects we might have imagined would be obliterated by modernity. Thus the Hutterites, Anabaptist followers of 16th-century dissenter Jakob Hutter, who shun the modern world and live quiet communal lives in rural Middle America, have grown from a colony of 400 souls in 1900 to 50,000 today. Since they do not proselytise this is all internal growth. In the same period the buggy-driving Amish have grown from 5,000 to 250,000. That will double by 2050.

 

Right at the end of the piece, Kaufmann is quoted as saying that he wishes to “force a certain rethink of the idea that we are moving naturally toward secularism”

If people do indeed still have that idea (at least if we equate “secularism” with a lack of religious belief, which is, of course, not necessarily the case), they are seriously misguided. The future, like the past, will be religious. The only question is what shape those religions will take.

H/t: Rod Dreher

Over at ScienceBlogs I have a post up where I explore the differences by state between the American Religious Identification Survey in 1990 and 2008. I then compare these data to the national election results in 1988 and 2008.

Here is a chart which shows the relationship between % “No Religion” and proportion of votes for George H. W. Bush in 1988:

And here is a chart which shows the relationship between % “No Religion” and proportion of votes for John McCain in 2008:

What you see here is that there is no correlation on the state by state level between those with “No Religion” and voting for Republicans or Democrats in 1988, but that by 2008 the proportion with “No Religion” can explain 20% of the variation by 1988. Some of this is just due to the rapid expansion of the proportion of the American population which avows “No Religion”. But the secularization process exhibits geographic patterns; Vermont now has a plural majority for those with “No Religoin,” and perhaps tellingly it is a state which has shifted much further to the Left than the national average since 1988 (it voted for Bush in ’88, but was a deep blue state by ’08). Secularization in fact has been most pronounced in northern New England, which has seen a shift toward the Left over the past generation.

What relevance does this have for current politics? 21% of political Independents have “No Religion,” as opposed to 16% of Democrats and 6% of Republicans. The role of Independents in Scott Brown’s recent victory, and in New England in general, is notable. There is no doubt that today the Republican party is defined by its white Protestant core, and this will be the basis for any future Republican majority. But I think Scott Brown’s election shows the importance of demographics outside of the core in creating a viable majority party. Though Brown himself is an Evangelical Calvinist, his campaign did not seem culturally colored in a way that the secular Center-Right might find off-putting. I think this is an important insight, and suggests further analogies between Scott Brown and Barack Obama.* Though Obama does not seem to be personally a particularly religiously devout individual, he managed to appeal to substantial numbers of religious voters through his mastery of rhetoric and presentation. Similarly, though Scott Brown’s personal beliefs are conventionally Christian, his tone and presentation was such as that voters otherwise skeptical of the Religious Right coloring of the modern Republican party found him acceptable.

* Because Scott Brown is pro-choice and is by necessity ideologically somewhat marginal with the party I am not suggesting here he could ever be a viable presidential candidate as a Republican. Unless he changes his views appropriately, at which point he would lose any shred of credible authenticity for pulling “a Romney.”

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Nov/09

1

The necessity of the non-answer

Clark of Mormon Metaphysics points to this screed by Peter Lawler over at Postmodern Conservative by way of praising Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies. Lawler asserts:

… It begins as a criticism of the naive stupidity of the “new atheists” such as Hitchens, Dawkins, and Dennett from the perspective of the older atheist Nietzsche. The new atheists criticize religion (or basically Christianity) from an anti-cruelty, pro-dignity, pro-rights, pro-enlightenment perspective. They don’t realize that their humane values are, in fact, parasitic on Christianity and make no sense outside the Christian insight–completely unsupported by modern or Darwinian science–concerning the uniqueness and irreplacability of every human person. Nietzsche was right that secular Christianity or Christianity without Christ is unsustainable, and that the sentimental preferences of the new atheists are no more than that.

I have been blogging for 7 years now, and the whole time I have made it clear that I am an atheist. My readers who are orthodox Christians have often asserted that Nietzsche is the only true consistent and honest atheist, that only his atheism faces the plain facts of existence in a world without God, and that I should man up. Though the author of Atheist Delusions is an Eastern Orthodox theologian and philosopher, Lawler reports that his criticism of the New Atheists starts from a Nietzschian perspective. All I have to say is that homey don’t play that game. Friedrich Nietzsche was the product of a line of Lutherans pastors, so it should not surprise that his atheism engages so directly, and inverts so forcefully, the thrust of Christianity. As philosophy goes much of what Nietzsche had to say was captivating, but then I also find science fiction captivating, as well as some portions of the Bible.

The atheism of Nietzsche plays on the terms of Christianity, and that is why Christians often admire his work. It is entirely intelligible to them insofar as it operates in the same universe of morals, albeit characterized by inversions. So naturally Christians castigate atheists who are not Nietzschians, such a stance creates much greater difficulty in fashioning rhetorical thrusts. Too many presuppositions simply are not aligned. Where Lawler and many others declare that Christianity is a necessary precondition of humane values, I simply assert that humane values, or more accurately the values we hold today, used Christianity, as well as other religions and philosophies, as cultural vessels. Morality and ethics existed prior to religion, and the emergence of “Higher Religions” which fused a moral sense with supernatural intuitions was a process which occurred in the light of history. It was no miracle, and may even have been inevitable once humans reached a particular level of organization.

Of course this sort of argument leaves many loose ends hanging. So be it. Those who believe that they have the Ultimate answer do not, and yet we continue to muddle on.

Nov/09

1

White men can’t be progressive?

Matt Yglesias says, White Men Are Not Very Progressive:

I would say that another message is that progressive politics is badly disadvantaged by a situation in which the overwhelming majorities of political leaders and prominent media figures are white men. There are plenty of white men with progressive views, but in general the majority of white men are not progressive and the majority of progressives are not white men. Drawing from the relatively small pool of white male progressives means drawing from a shallow talent pool.

This is not really right. From the GSS:


White non-Hispanic Men
All Bachelor’s degree Grad school degree Smart (WORDSUM 8-10), graduate degree

Extremely Lib 2.7 3.2 4 1.5
Liberal 9 11 16.2 17.4
Slightly Lib 10.4 12.9 14.4 19
Moderate 35.9 24.5 23.8 27.5
Slightly Cons 17.2 21.4 17.1 16.3
Conservative 20.5 22.9 20.9 16.7
Extremely Cons 4.4 4.1 3.6 1.6

Here’s a chart which makes the issue clear:
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Nov/09

1

Catholics somewhat less conservative even if observant

Are Catholic Republicans More Liberal Than Protestant Republicans?, a comment:

A lot of people call themselves “Catholic” who really don’t even go to Church and who deny many Catholic Church teachings…ergo… the author’s conclusion is VERY flawed.

This is a plausible hypothesis. In fact, I wonder if the comment was left by God, because they clearly know who a real “Catholic” is, and are also aware that people who call themselves Protestants are “real” Protestants. In fact, in the comments of most political blogs opinions expressed have the voice of God, because stupidity does not exist in democratic discourse. But I know how to use web forms, so I checked political ideology of those with “Strong Republican” identities in the GSS. I limited the years to 1988 and after for contemporary relevance, and to whites. I broke them down into Catholics and Protestants who attend church at different rates. Results below.
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Oct/09

18

Attitudes toward immigration

Below, Art says:

Of course the Republican and conservative segment of the population is strongly anti-immigration …

They are strongly anti-illegal immigration. Most conservatives favor legal immigration, particularly skilled immigrants.

This is not really true, depending on how you interpret what Art meant. In fact, Americans as a whole want lower levels of legal immigration. In 2006 the Center for Immigration Studies republished a Zogby Poll on American attitudes toward immigration. I reproduced some of the responses to two questions below in a table.

I highlighted a few rows.

1) American Jews are outliers on immigration (though even among them there is a tendency to toward immigration skeptic positions).

2) No surprise that the highest income Americans are those who most agree that one needs immigration to bolster the unskilled labor force.

3) There are some peculiar numbers for “very conservative” individuals. 21% are “not sure” if immigration is necessary to meet the needs of unskilled labor in this country. I have two hypotheses:

a) A significant proportion of “very conservative” individuals are strongly influenced by economic libertarian arguments about the utility of easy flows of capital and labor in a global economy. So this is an empirical question for them which they will not offer an opinion upon if they don’t have the information on hand.

b) A significant proportion of “very conservative” individuals don’t see immigration as an economic issue at all, but rather one of race, ethnicity and national character. So these sorts of considerations are moot for them.
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A few weeks ago I reported on data which showed a close relationship between conservative religious views and high teen birthrates on the state level. I asked about controlling for race, since blacks have high teen birthrates, and are very religious. I did it myself, and it didn’t have that much of an effect. The relationship is real, even if you control for black population. Additionally, I limited also to teen births among those age 15-17. The correlation dropped, probably because religious conservatives marry young, but it still remains. Below is a map which shows the outcome for this on a state-level. Note that Utah is now an outlier; Mormons marry and have children young, but not at 15-17.
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Update: Welcome Hot Air readers! This post reports data from the The General Social Survey, it is *not* a post to debate the presumed merits of the Creationist controversy! I used the EVOLVED variable, which asked:

Human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals.

TRUE or FALSE. That was all.

Rather self-explanatory. I simply used the EVOLVED variable, which records a question asked in 2006 & 2008. Nothing too surprising, but Creationist Republican politicians have mass support, so it may be that in coming years that that position will become the Republican elite norm as the pro-life position has become. The only caution, and hope, is that historically Creationists are generally beaten back by anti-Creationist elite Republicans and conservatives when they manage to force their ideas into the classroom on the local level.
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