Secular Right | Reality & Reason

Jan/12

22

The end of the Reformation

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Am I the only one to note the relative lack of salience of the Catholic-Protestant divide in the Republican primaries? Commentators routinely ignore the fact that the two candidates with the greatest appeal to evangelical Protestants are Roman Catholic. Not only that, but one, Rick Santorum, is a staunch Catholic affiliated with an organization which is not ecumenical in the least. But all that doesn’t matter now. It goes to show how abstract labels and sectarian divisions which are stark to those prone to over-rationalize religion melt away in the face of historical forces.

The American Republican party is the faction of white Protestants. And yet currently the only white Protestant candidate, Ron Paul, has no particular appeal to that demographic.

7 comments

  • RandyB · January 22, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Same thing on the Supreme Court. Three Jews (liberals) and Six Catholics (4 conservatives, a liberal, and swing). I think rabid anti-abortion and anti-gay politics can’t sit with the Protestant tradition of personal interpretation of scripture any more.

  • mark e. · January 22, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    I think perhaps the more salient division these days if you are looking at religious background within Christianity is evangelical/non-evangelical.

  • arnold smith · January 22, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    I recently saw a video by Penn Jillette (on YouTube, I think) that somewhat explaines this.

    The Protestant/Catholic divide that many of us remember from our childhood–indeed a divide between different Protestant religions–has been replaced by the abortion question. Many of the members of these Christian groups united around anti-abortion as the overriding issue. So, the fiercely anti-abortion Santorum is more acceptable to Protestant evangelicals than the Protestant Paul.

    Interestingly, the Penn Jillette video says that if the old divisions of the early 1960’s still held, then atheists at about 22% of the US population would be the largest “religious” group over Catholics, Methodists, Lutherans, etc. It’s worth looking at.

  • Angie Van De Merwe · January 23, 2012 at 5:03 am

    I think the loss of “the personal” whether due to religion or political power undermines liberty at large! Monism as a system of belief, undercuts liberty of conscience and personal values!!!

  • Angie Van De Merwe · January 23, 2012 at 5:05 am

    correction; religion or State power…not political power.

  • Chris · January 25, 2012 at 12:19 am

    Somehow people are missing out on the work that’s been done to bridge the gap in the last 30 years. People like Chuck Colson and Father Neuhaus and groups like Evangelicals and Catholics Together have worked to create a political coalition that overcomes doctrinal differences.

    Part of the success is the fact that the Catholic leadership in the US doesn’t take Catholic doctrine all that seriously. When they do, threatening to excommunicate pro-choice politicians, e.g., they get blowback from the laity. My guess is that ECT wouldn’t really work in Europe, where the conservative priests would be as doctrinally inflexible as politically conservative.

    On the other hand, part of the success is also due to a general loss of learning in Protestant sects. When you listen to evangelical radio now and read educational materials put out by evangelical publishing houses, they are much more aimed at simply getting people informed of what is in the Bible and what Christians believe rather than complex historical or theological explication of scripture.

  • Susan · January 26, 2012 at 12:29 am

    As far as I know, Paul IS anti-abortion, but he doesn’t make an issue of it to the extent that Santorum does. Nor did Paul say, as Santorum did, that as president he’d talk to the American people about the dangers (moral) that birth control poses for women. (It allows women to do things in “the sexual realm” that they shouldn’t.) And Santorum is a lot more vocally opposed to gay marriage than is Paul. I’d have to look up Paul’s position on gay marriage to tell you what it is, which says something.

    Social conservatism now seems to mean being opposed to gay marriage and abortion. Santorum is much more identified with being a fierce opponent of either–with the extra added attraction of bring opposed to birth control for women–so yes, despite being a Papist, he’d appeal to evangelicals.

    The evangelicals probably don’t like Paul’s position on drugs, either.

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