Pious Democrats

There’s a post over at Winds of Change on the prospects for the Democratic Party courting the evangelical Christian vote. The post has spawned a vigorous discussion of the relationship between religion and the Democratic Party, a considerable amount of which on both sides appears to me to be poppycock or, at least, gross exaggeration.

If there’s any hostility to religion in the Democratic Party here in Chicago, I’ve yet to notice it. Chicago is, of course, overwhelmingly Democratic (my wife refers to herself as “the Republican in our precinct”). I don’t have the figures at my fingertips but I’m sure that at least a majority of Chicago’s white Democrats are Catholics (Chicago is a very Catholic town) and that the overwhelming preponderance of black Democrats are either Baptists or AME. I don’t see anybody making a secret of their religion here.

And, BTW, there are as good support systems here for people actually practicing Judaism here as any place I know of.

For general information on religious denominations in the United States, this is a pretty good place to start.

You might also find this interesting. In the present Congress Catholics hold 29% of the seats with 128 representatives and 24 senators. Here’s a quick breakdown:

Denomination Representatives Senators
Catholic 128 24
Baptist 65 7
Methodist 63*
Presbyterian 50*
Episcopalians 41*
Lutherans 20*
LDS 11 5

*Both houses

Catholics in Congress

House Republicans Democrats
Senate 11 13
Representatives 59 72

What does “evangelicals” mean, precisely? Is it a euphemism for white non-orthodox Protestants? There’s certainly no particular antipathy towards religion, generally, apparent in that list. Quite the opposite.

Now, if what’s being discussed is an antipathy towards religion, generally, or Christianity in particular among opinion makers, i.e. journalists, television personalities, actors and actresses, in New York, California, and Washington, DC, they may have something. But that’s a much narrower claim.

5 comments… add one
  • “Evangelical” generally means “theologically conservative Protestant which heavily emphasizes evangelism”. Lots of white Protestants aren’t evangelical, and I think most black churches are evangelical to at least some degree.

    To be more relevant: there’s a lot of room for liberal ideas in evangelical circles. Read some Tony Campolo or Ron Sider for examples.

  • That definition would include Lutheranism (which isn’t generally what people appear to mean when they use the term).

  • As a former Lutheran, I dispute that the definition includes them. 🙂

    They do “theologically conservative” well (at least, the Missouri Synod does), but are way too weak on their emphasis on evangelism.

  • Jeff, I base that assessment on a conversation I had some years back with a Lutheran minister who insisted (rather testily) that Lutheranism was, indeed, evangelical in its orientation.

  • Well, I’m claiming, as a former Lutheran who was ministry-track at one time (and received that training at the “evangelical Harvard”), that the Lutheran church in general is not evangelical.

    Some Lutheran churches probably are evangelical, but you’ll see that by the sermons exhorting the members to win souls for Christ, the altar calls, the noticeboards covered with pictures of missionary families, etc.

    I’ve been in my share of Lutheran churches, and I’ll tell you: they’re few and far between.

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