Sample Religious Studies Paper on Religion in the News: Journal Entries

Clinton, Not Trump, Narrowly Won the Catholic Vote in 2016

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/new-analysis-finds-clinton-not-trump-narrowly-won-the-catholic-vote-in-2016_us_58e574bce4b06a4cb30f0aaf

Summary

Contrary to figures portrayed by early exit polls for the 2016 elections, Hillary Clinton got more votes from the Catholic masses – compared to her opponent Donald Trump. The early polls had indicated that Trump got more support from Catholics. Data released by the American National Studies put the statics of Clinton’s votes from Catholic at 48 percent, compared to Trump’s 45 percent. Among other derivatives, these findings portray the inaccuracies of exit polls, especially in the analysis of demographic patterns of the voters. In the overall analysis of the distribution of Catholic votes, however, the figures are skewed towards an almost equal distribution of votes between the two candidates, albeit Hillary Clinton getting significantly more votes from that particular voting bloc.

Reflection

Catholics are believed to be traditionally Democratic supporters based on the 2008 and 2012 elections, and the 2016 exit polls’ indication of a different turn did not stand the test of time, at least according to the American Election Studies. The distribution of the votes between the two candidates was pegged on their positions on sensitive moral concerns among Catholics, including abortion. It is important to distinguish, also, the division of Catholics into liberal and conservative Catholics, and the influence of these standpoints in the voting patterns displayed. For instance, although liberal Catholics are against abortion, they are not willing to outlaw it. Liberal Catholics are the minority, but hold significant influence on their contemporaries. Further analysis of the Catholic votes indicates that whereas younger Catholics – millennials — favored Hillary Clinton, older Catholics voted for Donald Trump. This pattern is not a contradiction of religious views, but a reflection of worldview perceptions based on age, the religiosity of the voters notwithstanding.

The older generation might have lived at a time that America was ‘great’, and perhaps resonated with Trump’s slogan of “make America great again.” Young Catholics, on the contrary, who are have grown up in an increasingly globalizing world, cannot fathom anti-globalizing sentiments such as building of territorial walls and putting strict regulations on immigrants. Similar patterns are demonstrated when analyzing voting patterns of different races within Catholics. A majority of White Catholics voted for Trump, and Hillary Clinton got the larger share of votes from the other minority races. In my opinion, the Catholic vote was distinctly a tossup, and could be a determining factor in case of a re-run between the two candidates in the next election. In essence, each candidate might attempt to convince the Catholic masses, considering the total votes in 2016 indicates almost equal distribution of Catholics into Democrats and Republicans factions – based on the small margins portrayed.

 

 

 

  1. Trump Can’t Reverse the Decline of White Christian America

Source https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/07/robert-jones-white-christian-america/532587/

Summary

President Donald Trump, among many driving factors, won the elections on the belief that he will resurrect America’s declining White Christina America. During his campaigns, Trump explained how, if a different president – Democrat – is elected; more immigrants will be allowed into the country and allowed to vote over time. This sequence will eventually lead to the demise of the predominant White Christian America. Trump proclaimed himself to Americans as their ‘last’ chance to restore the country. This call appealed to the White Christian masses that turned up to vote in large numbers.

Reflection

The idea of voting Donald Trump on the platform of ‘savior’ of White Christians is not only perplexing, but may be construed to represent the standard moral compass of the American populace. Of course, this is not a representation of the facts. At the very least, it might represent America’s lack of eligible Christian politicians with the optimum moral authority to lead Christians, Whites and non-Whites. The White Christian America, identified as ‘value voters’, ended up supporting a candidates surrounded by controversies, mostly touching on his moral standards. As protectors of the marriage institution, White Christians supported a man who has been married three times. In addition, White Christians supported a man who owns casinos, has appeared on the cover of playboy magazine, used curse words during campaigns, and was caught on tape bragging about touching women’s genitals without their consent. The candidate, from the very beginning, did not have the makings of a man who can reverse the decline of White Christian America.

A massive 81 percent of White Evangelical Christians voted for Trump, in the hopes of preventing the decline of White Christianity. On the contrary, religion in the age of Trump might face further decline. Many of the President’s advisers and supporters have abandoned him. In addition, a significant number of key government officials have resigned, under his administration. The only group that still holds significant support of the President is the Evangelical Christians, despite a contrast between the religious group’s convictions and the President’s statements and behaviors. Granted, the reversal of the declining White Christianity did not require a Pope or a holy Messiah as President, but a level-headed politician with the moral authority to lead. President Trump’s successful reversal of the decline should not be assessed on his moral standards, but on his ability to maintain the White majority by enforcing strict immigrant laws and deportation of illegal immigrants – Mostly non-White.

  1. Faith on the Hill

Source http://www.pewforum.org/2017/01/03/faith-on-the-hill-115/

Summary

Despite the decline of Christianity in America, it is safe to say that the country is in good hands, based on the composition of Congress. 91 percent of members of Congress describe themselves as Christians. Among the 293 Republicans in Congress, only two of them do not identify as Christians. 80 percent of the Democrats describe themselves as Christians. Despite this increasingly overrepresentation of Christians, there is a marked decline of Protestants in the Congress, and an accompanied increased of Catholics. These interdenominational changes notwithstanding, the significant number of Christians in Congress has important implications in the overall legislations and running of government.

Reflection

The United States Congress plays important roles in the country that include representation of the people, educating the public, performing oversight, and legislation. The structure and powers of Congress bestowed upon it by the constitution makes it one of the most important and powerful institutions in the country. It is important, therefore, that the people handling these powers are people of integrity and guided by moral principles. By one describing himself/herself as a Christian, an assumption is made on the things they can do – and the things they cannot, based on their moral conscious. President Trump’s executive’s checks and balances are overseen by Congress, through their oversight role.

Although religion in the age of Trump is believed to undergo significant decline, there is hope in the potential of restoring religious beliefs as guiding principles in governance, as evidenced by the overwhelming numbers of Christians in Congress. Legislations and policies that promote growth of Christianity and its moral principles are likely to find favor among members of Congress. Furthermore, the election of this high number of Christians as members of Congress is also a representation of the strong belief among the American people on people who subscribe to religious principles.

 

 

  1. The Muslim American Experience in the Trump Era

Source: http://www.pewforum.org/2017/07/26/the-muslim-american-experience-in-the-trump-era/

Summary

The relationship between the Trump administration and a majority of the Muslim community seems weak. The Muslims view the Trump and the Republican government as unfriendly, making them worried about their future in the American society. Most Muslims, especially women and blacks believe in increased discrimination boosted by the anti-Muslim campaigns across the United States. The discrimination occurs in terms of negative media coverage, and the recent order by Trump to restrict and depot immigrants from countries with Muslim-majority. A few Muslims remain hopeful on Trump’s vision. To conclude, Muslims generally feel dissatisfied and ignored under the Trump administration.

Reflection

Islam is the third largest religion in the United States, after Christianity and Judaism, with over 3.5 million Muslims living across the country. The number of Muslims in the United States increases rapidly, from births, conversion and immigration, therefore forming an important religion in the American society. Muslims also participate in the societal and political activities in America and hold different political views. In the 2016 political election and earlier elections, most Muslims voted and support the democratic party. The Muslims hold liberal views, with constant improvement overtime, making it one of the fastest growing religions in the United States. The conflict between president Donald Trump and Muslims weakened further during his 2016 presidential campaigns when he frequently gave sentiments against Islam, contributing to its widespread discrimination and extremism.

With the statistics on number and political participation of the Muslims, it is important for Trump and Republican government to ensure inclusivity and cater for the needs of all religions. The discrimination witnessed and felt among Muslims makes them feel a lesser community in the society. The Muslims begun facing discrimination and extremism challenges since the 9/11 attacks and due to rising terrorism, usually related to Islam. Trump’s immigration and travel bans against some Arabic countries, with Muslim majority, occurred as a strategy to secure America. The bans and some sentiments against Muslims makes them believe the government does not support Islam, making them feel abandoned and viewing Trump as unfriendly. The connection between Islam and terrorism leads to societal neglect and evils like arresting and deportation of Muslims from the United States.

 

  1. President Donald Trump Full Speech at the Value Voters Summit

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6pl_87a7cU

Summary

President Donald Trump expressed his support and dedication to upholding values. At the Summit, Trump admitted that religion in the American Society drastically changed and no longer played a significant role in the society. The Americans drifted away from the religious roots, became more liberal on certain practices, leading to erosion of morality and rise of evil. The President argued for protection of religious freedom, cherishing of religious values and condemnation of certain immoral practices in society, including homosexuality and abortion. Trump promised to weaken the Johnston Amendment that limited involvement of religious groups in politics and government, and vowed to strengthen religion in the United States.

Reflection

Religion existed in the United States since independence, with several religions developing and spreading across the country. Drastic social change and societal development, over time led to erosion of religious traditions and heritage. People became more liberal than conservative. This led to the rise of many groups, like atheism and paganism, many insisting on spirituality. The American society experiences increased legislation and civil support of birth control, abortion and homosexuality increased and the role morality faced a great decline in the United States. Crime rates also increased in the society. Despite the diversity and religiousness of the Americans, religious groups play a limited role in addressing immorality and lack of moral values among people. Such concerns led to formation of groups like Value Voters that seek to promote religion and morality in the United States.

President Donald Trump became the first sitting president to address the Value Voters Summit. This showed his commitment to promoting religious sanity in the American society. Flashing back to 2015, a treaty introduced by George Washington and passed by a senate stated clearly that “The Government of the United States is not based on Christian Beliefs.” This showed that the government remained liberal and did not allow religion to influence its operation, therefore the limits imposed on religious groups involvement in government and political endorsements. Donald Trump’s speech at the Summit brings back hope to the rise of a moral society. His commitment to protecting the rights of religious groups and weakening development of immoral practices introduces a new dimension of morality in the American society.

  1. Is There an Evangelical Crisis?

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/25/opinion/sunday/trump-evangelical-crisis.html

Summary

Evangelism thrives well in the American society, favored by liberalism and religious freedom. Christian Smith, a religious sociologist described the post-1960s Christian evangelism in the United States. Smith observed a great decline in the mainstream Catholic and Protestant churches, and an increase in evangelical Christianity. Evangelism remains stable and fits well in the advanced and modern society. However, concerns arise over the survival of the evangelism in the Trump era, the future of young evangelists and relationship between religious tradition and morality. In the 2016 presidential elections, Trump seemed to gain more support from the evangelists, whose vision aligned with prosperity teachings of the evangelists.

Reflection

Evangelism in the modern society faces many challenges and dilemmas. Since the 1960s, evangelists often integrate modernity and social changes in their teachings. Unlike conservatives who preserve religious traditions, character and practices, evangelicals seem more accommodating of change. They focus their teachings on prosperity and addressing current problems and religious needs. Evangelical Christianity gains a lot of followers and members, especially those shifting from mainstream churches. The evangelists place less focus on religious traditions, like character and insist on spirituality and personal conviction. The nationalism characteristic of evangelicals gained Trump favor among the evangelists. However, the evangelists, who include religious reformists, tend to differ in their teachings. The older evangelists also seem to blame the younger evangelists as they seem more reformed and aligned to social change than religious teachings.

The crisis likely to face that evangelical Christianity, especially in the Trump era involves the evidence of some evangelists supporting Trump administration and some opposing it. The kind of trend attracts interest on evangelists being more partisan, than focusing on the basic spiritual role. Trump also engages well with evangelists, frequently stating his strong believe in God and prayer. Evangelists like Russel Moore engages in advocating for increased integration of biblical teachings in Christianity, as opposed to the modern trend of money and prosperity. The leaders of evangelical movements therefore face the challenge of remaining united, when some support and others oppose it. The political factor may lead to major divisions that may disrupt the stability of Evangelism in the United States. Therefore, the evangelists need to focus on their religious and spiritual duties, upholding morality and condemning social evils.