Mark D. W. EdingtonExecutive
Director, Harvard Decision Science Laboratory; Parish Priest, Saint John's, Newtonville, MA
Posted: 11/26/2012 12:57 pm
Now that all the campaigning is over and the ceaseless ads have finally ceased (thank God!), here's question worth pondering: What happened to the middle in America? And how is that reflected, not just in our politics, but in our pews?
Not so long ago in this campaign it seemed as though religion might be a kind of dividing line, at least at the national level. The interesting rapprochement between Catholics and conservative Evangelical Christians emerged as a topic of conversation back when former Senator Rick Santorum was still a viable candidate, and has been more recently the subject of slightly backhanded comment in the slightly bizarre case of Dinesh D'Souza's disgraced exit from the presidency of King's College.
But it does not seem evident that this alliance emerged as a clear force in shaping the political conversation in the midst of an election that, in many other respects, seems to have yet more deeply divided the nation into two Americas.
Perhaps the idea that religion constituted a significant difference between the political parties was itself oversold. An interesting tally by the New York Times showed that the Republicans managed to mention "God" 95 times in their convention, while the Democrats did the divine shout-out 85 times. The difference was more clear on words like "faith" (31 Republican mentions, 21 Democratic) and "church" (24 Republican mentions, only 3 Democratic). Even so, stereotypes to the contrary it's not clear that we have only one party that takes religion seriously.