Mainline Protestants Rise Again in DC
By Michelle Boorstein
Americans who call themselves Mainline Protestants may be slipping in number, but their influence is likely on the rise in Washington.
Under the Bush Administration, mainline groups -- including Methodists, Lutherans, Episcopalians -- complained of being shut out. But now they have more of a natural ally in the White House in President Obama, something reconfirmed by a new poll of mainline clergy.
The poll, done by the progressive consulting/polling firm Public Religion Research, and overseen by well-known political scientist John Green, shows that mainline clergy tend to agree with Obama that government has a key role in issues such as housing, health care, poverty and the environment -- areas more important to those polled than hot-button issues like abortion and the death penalty.
While mainline Protestants just a few decades ago were solid GOP voters, the poll reflects a trend that's been underway for a while -- mainline clergy are much more likely to call themselves liberal or Democratic than conservative or Republican. Forty-eight percent of the clergy polled said they leaned left, though it varied among the denominations. Seventy-four percent of clergy from the United Church of Christ said they were liberals, compared to less than a third of those in the American Baptist Churches USA.
Mainlines may be on the rise in Washington, but they're skidding downhill, numbers-wise, in the rest of the country. The percent of Americans who call themselves mainline dropped from 19 percent in 1990 to 13 percent last year, according to the American Religious Identification Survey, released a few weeks ago.
Posted by: InDCarea | April 1, 2009 5:34 PM
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