According to a new Pew Research Center study, 40% of Americans say that the 2016 election has had too little discussion about the importance of religion and prayer. This compares to only 27% who believe there has been too much talk of faith in this election cycle. The numbers are surprising, especially when compared to an identical survey rolled out in 2012. At that time, 38% of respondents thought there was too much talk of religion and only 30% thought there was not enough.
The poll also showed that while the majority of Americans agree that religion does not have the influence on culture that it once did in this country, 51% think this shift is a bad thing for the future. Only 13% think the shift towards secularism is a positive sign.
This could explain, to some degree, why evangelical Christians showed up in such force for Ted Cruz in Iowa. Together with Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee, Cruz has been proudly waving the flag for Christian conservatism in a way that many of his competitors have not. The modern Republican Party seems afraid or even ashamed of the evangelical wing of the base, apparently believing that a faith-driven candidate cannot win a general election. Which is, of course, a foolish thing to believe.
Is America as religious as it was even two decades ago? No. But we’re still a long way from the day when atheism rules the roost. The vast majority of Americans still believe in God, and the majority of those individuals consider themselves Christians. People of faith will not necessarily always choose the political candidate who best hews to their religious beliefs, but they will certainly not be scared away by those who wear their faith on their sleeves.
For all the talk about separating church and state, our founding fathers knew that religion had to play a significant role in the fabric of American politics. In his farewell address, George Washington said, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.”
Liberals have been working hard to convince Americans that religious conservatives want to bring about a brutal theocracy akin to Islamic Iran. The media feigns shock when Cruz makes grand statements about his belief in Christ. Reporters turn in disgust when Marco Rubio insists that his faith will guide his foreign policy. Meanwhile, if a Muslim candidate said these things, these same liberals would fall all over themselves to praise them.
Without God, American exceptionalism would have never flourished. At a time when we are constantly distracted by sensationalism, sex, and silliness, it wouldn’t hurt to put a little bit of sober faith back in our politics.