Americans do not consider the leading contenders for the Democrat presidential nomination to be very religious, reveals a new survey from the Pew Research Center.
Asked how they view the religiosity of four of the top contenders — Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren — fewer than ten percent said they see any of these as “very religious,” Pew found.
Just three percent said that Elizabeth Warren is very religious, while four percent said the same of Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg (despite the latter’s frequent Bible quoting). The largest portion (nine percent) of Americans view Joe Biden as very religious.
In the case of Bernie Sanders, the current front-runner for the nomination, a significant majority of Americans (60 percent) believe he is “not too” or “not at all” religious.
This most recent Pew report underscores the Democrats’ continuing “God problem,” a phenomenon that seems to be growing more acute with the years.
Last fall, Pew revealed that more than twice as many Americans view the Democrat Party as “unfriendly” toward religion than the Republican Party, while fewer than one in five U.S. adults said the Democrats are “friendly” toward religion.
Pew found that nearly a third (31 percent) of all U.S. adults believe that the Democrat Party is actually unfriendly to religion, while only 13 percent said the same of the Republican Party. On the other hand, 54 percent of Americans said that the Republican Party is friendly to religion, while only 19 percent said the same of the Democrats.
In a similar vein, Catholic League president Bill Donohue noted last October that the Democrat debate has grown openly hostile toward people of faith, which reveals itself in the candidates’ severity in dealing with religious freedom issues.
It is clear that “none of the Democratic candidates wants to be tagged as religion-friendly,” he declared.
The Democrats’ growing antipathy toward religion is most evident in their attacks on “traditional religious exemptions in law,” Donohue observed, which have existed since the nation’s founding and up until recently were “considered uncontroversial.”
“All of the candidates incline against religious exemptions — some more than others — making them the least religion-friendly candidates for president in American history,” he stated.
Conservatives and think-tanks are not the only ones concerned with the Democrats’ renunciation of religion.
Last year, Professor Peter Beinart of the City University of New York, a liberal political commentator, noted with concern that white Democrats are invoking God far less than their predecessors and tend to refer to religious faith negatively rather than positively.
Unlike past Democrat candidates like Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, Barack Obama, and even Hillary Clinton — who all invoked God in their presidential announcement speeches — the leading Democrat presidential candidates for 2020 avoided any mention of God except to warn Americans how religion can be used to divide people, Beinart noted in an essay in the Atlantic last March.
Democrats’ reluctance to mention God reflects a new demographic reality in the party, Beinart suggested. Since more and more white Democrats claim no religious affiliation, God talk is no longer met with approval.
In his analysis of the 2016 election results, the former director of Barack Obama’s faith-outreach efforts, Michael Wear, said that the Democrats have become tone-deaf toward religion, which explained why people of faith voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump.
Wear argued that the Democrats’ alienation of believers was tied to the party’s close partnership with the abortion industry.
“Reaching out to evangelicals doesn’t mean you have to become pro-life,” Wear said. “It just means you have to not be so in love with how pro-choice you are, and so opposed to how pro-life we are.”
“The Democratic Party used to welcome people who didn’t support abortion into the party. We are now so far from that, it’s insane,” he added.