Background Probability

The Agnostic Popular Front has moved to its new home at Skeptic Ink, and will henceforth be known as Background Probability. Despite the relocation and rebranding, we will continue to spew the same low-fidelity high-quality bullshit that you've come to expect.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Biblical Literalism and Political Conservatism

Years ago, I posted a few thoughts on the rough shape of the Bible Belt in modern America.  I'd like to update those those just a bit relative to the 2012 election.  Here is the map based on the same Pew data as before:

As before, I've removed (grayed out) the bits of CONUS in which scriptural literalism falls below the 30% threshold.  What is left is what I would call the 'Bible Belt' based on relevant data from social scientists. 

Now, take a hard look at this map. Are any states which the incumbent President can reasonably expect to win in November which fall inside of the Bible Belt as I've defined it here? The answer depends on which polls you're tracking and what day or the week it is, but it's basically down to Virginia, Ohio, and maybe Florida, and each of these is pretty much a toss-up.  Every other Bible Belt state (and a few extras) are firmly in the GOP camp, while most of the Northeast, West Coast, and Great Lakes states are as firmly in the other column.

The conclusion is ineluctable and disturbing: The political lines dividing our country are not merely a function of demography and political ideology, but also a matter of how one approaches religious faith. Generally speaking, the more likely one is to accept the Bible as literally true, word for word, the more likely one is to vote Republican.  I'd be interested in hearing any theories as to why this might be so.


Tim said...

because the christian church is trying to leverage its gullible flocks into political power, and I'd even be cynical enough to say that money was involved.

Canticle said...

I'm a Christian and I lived in the Bible Belt most of my life, although I'm a Catholic and not a fundamentalist (which is a Christian who believes every word in the Bible should be taken literally, instead of figuratively, allegorically, etc).

You raise a really interesting question. There are two things that come to mind, although I'm not an expert: First, perhaps it's because the majority of the "Bible Belt Christians" also place an emphasis on morality in the political realm. The Republican party was the first group of politicians to be specifically anti-slavery (something that I didn't know until recently). It seems like since that time, they've kept a platform that's very "traditional" in its principles: eg, more anti-abortion than other parties and most recently very pro "traditional" family. This is NOT to say that each individual Republican is an upstanding, moral citizen, or that the Republicans have the monopoly on "morality." Far from it. I'm simply noting viewpoint of many of my fellow southerners in the Bible Belt.

Secondly, the Republican party has traditionally upheld a very anti big government platform. That fits in pretty well with the ideals that the Southern States have held since before the time of the Civil War.

Sorry this answer is so long! Hope it's helpful. :) Thanks for raising the question!