Warning for Dems in Pew Survey

The headlines about the Pew Survey focus on the fact that Americans still tend to prefer their religion in one part of their lives and politics in another, just as some people keep their vegetables on one side of the plate and their meat on the other. There has been since the founding a sometimes subtle, sometimes not, tussle between America's secular governmental system and the deep religiosity of American culture and society.

But, there is a clear warning for the Obama Administration and Democrats generally in the Pew data: They state:

Opinions about whether the Obama administration is friendly toward religion have shifted modestly since 2009. Currently, 39% say the administration is friendly to religion, 32% say it is neutral and 23% say it is unfriendly. The balance of opinion was comparable in August 2009, although somewhat fewer (17%) said the administration was unfriendly to religion.

However, there has been a noticeable shift in opinions among white Catholics, perhaps reflecting effects from the controversy over the administration’s policies on contraception coverage. The percentage of white Catholics who say the administration is unfriendly to religion has nearly doubled – from 17% to 31% – since 2009. Three years ago, far more white Catholics said the administration was friendly (35%) than unfriendly to religion (17%); today, nearly as many say the administration is unfriendly (31%) as friendly (38%).

Not only should this trend among white RCs worry the Obama re-election team, it should deeply worry the DCCC and DSCC, the wings of the Democratic Party charged with electing Democrats to Congress and the Senate. So long as the Obama administration refuses to roll back the four-part definition of a religious institution that is the centerpiece of the HHS mandate, they will be in a tussle with the bishops. And, while many RCs ignore their bishops - a phenomenon on the right as well as the left to be sure - many do not, as doubling of those who think Obama's administration is hostile to religion indicates. My question for Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Reid, et al., is this: How do you win back Bart Stupak's seat, or John Boccieri's seat, or Cathy Dahlkemper's seat with this shift among white Catholics? Unless Speaker Pelosi really, really likes being in the minority, she is well-advised to tell her pro-choice caucus to think again about how they approach this issue and start looking for a better way to achieve their goal of universal access to free contraception than by involving Catholic institutions in the process.

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