By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
Two insightful observers of the intersection of religion and politics in America, E.J. Dionne and Bill Galston, believe a “new politics of religion” emerged in the 2010 elections, the hallmarks of which are two forms of deep public ambivalence – about Islam, and about the religious beliefs of President Barack Obama.
According to a new poll from the Public Religion Research Institute,which forms the basis of the Dionne/Galston analysis, 45 percent of Americans agree that Islamic teachings and values are at odds with the American way of life.
Meanwhile, 51 percent regard Obama’s religious outlook as different from their own, while only 40 percent say the president's beliefs are similar to theirs. (Dionne and Galston said they deliberately wanted to go deeper than the stale question of how many Americans still believe, inaccurately, that Obama is a Muslim.)
Those findings were presented in a new Brookings Institution report authored by Dionne and Galston, which was released today. I was part of a group of journalists that got a sneak peek on Monday in Miami Beach, and there’s also much of interest in the report from a Catholic point of view.