Charles Blow at the New York Times notes how politicians love to invoke religion and how tired Americans are of hearing it.
A March poll by the Pew Research Center, released at the end of a particularly fanatical Republican nominating process during which religious extremism took center stage, recorded a bit of a backlash against religion.
It found for the first time that more people thought that there has been too much expression of religious faith by political leaders.
In fact, the poll found that most Americans (51 percent) believe that religious conservatives have too much control over the Republican Party. That was a record high. By comparison, a plurality (49 percent) said they don’t believe that secular liberals have too much control over the Democratic Party. That too was a record high.
The exhaustion and suspicion cuts both ways. Research show that Americans are tired of religious leaders meddling in politics, especially when the leaders want their members to vote a certain way.
The poll also found that a record number of people (54 percent) said that churches and other houses of worship should keep out of political matters….
…Even as the candidates walk gingerly around religion, religious leaders remain riled up about two issues that could energize the Republican base at the expense of scaring off moderates and independents: contraception and same-sex marriage.
The real backlash appears to be against denominations who want their members to vote against their own personal beliefs (such as Catholic bishops who want lay Catholics to vote against birth control) or religious leaders who preach hatred against gays in response to growing acceptance of same-sex marriage.
Moderates and independents are turned off by this kind of bigotry and vitriol. This level of hate keeps religious extremism fresh in the minds of voters even if it’s not on the lips of candidates. In the end, it is likely to drag down the Republican brand more than lift it.
The people who want to take their country back might first want to start by taking their religion back.