Obama and People of Faith
Just as conservative Americans far outnumber liberals, Americans of faith far outnumber their secular cousins -- a fact of consequence in the secular war on religion.
The Wall Street Journal highlights a new study by the Pew Research Center titled "Faith on the Move," which finds that 74 percent of the 42.8 million immigrants residing in the United States are Christian and that some 90 percent of immigrants here identify some religious affiliation.
In April 2009 the president proclaimed in Turkey that we do not consider ourselves a Judeo-Christian nation. As Congressman Randy Forbes (Rep. VA) asked at the time, if we were founded on Judeo-Christian principles, when did we cease to consider ourselves as such?
Are we a nation of Judeo-Christian values, welcoming to all faiths or non-faiths, under God, with the shelter of the First Amendment, or are we a secular nation, under government, that protects no faith?
Given the media narrative driven by Obama and the Democrats, one might be surprised to learn that we are anything but a secular nation.
Demographic data by religion in the U.S. can be "elusive" because the Census Bureau cannot by law require religious identification.
Pew further finds that 24 percent of Americans are Catholic, confirmed by Census at 25 percent. The current confrontation over contraceptives, sterilizations, and abortifacients is thus a rather large canary in the religious coal mine.
Even though three-fourths of Americans and of our immigrants may be Christian, the president still calculates that bureaucratic force and media obfuscation could open the path among liberal Christians and apathetic Christians to the ultimate triumph of the state over the church.
Alas, as Afghanistan has been the graveyard of empires, so the Catholic Church has outlasted for two millennia those who would subdue and subvert it. Yet this one man in the twenty-first century attempts to do what no other before him could do.
And the rub for Obama is that Americans are apparently not so apathetic when it comes to religion. Additional Pew Research data shows that a national average of 71 percent of Americans say they believe in God "with absolute certainty." And 56 percent of Americans say religion is "very important in their lives."
Incidentally, the Pew table of religious importance by state shows that states where religious importance and belief in God are above the national average are almost all red states, and those below average are for the most part blue states.
As for the numbers of secular, or non-religious, Americans, the Pew report indicates about 10 percent of the population identifies as atheist, agnostic, or what Pew terms "secular unaffiliated," with higher proportions of young people falling into those categories. A somewhat similar 10 percent of U.S. immigrants are found by Pew to be "unaffiliated."
Whatever the margin of error in estimating the number of non-religious Americans, they are far outnumbered by the majority for whom religion is very important, not to mention the 90 percent or so of the population who identify as having some level of religion.
Regarding immigrants here illegally, the New York Times, quoting further Pew Research data, said last year that "about 11.2 million illegal immigrants were living in the United States in 2010, a number essentially unchanged from the previous year," with 58 percent, or 6.5 million, of those here illegally from Mexico.
Pew also finds that the number of illegal immigrants here has more or less leveled off after peaking in 2007, with a weak economy and sporadic enforcement efforts. Family planning and contraceptive efforts by the Mexican government have also led to "far smaller families" in Mexico, with the average number of children declining from seven in 1970 to just over two today, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Democrats paint Republicans as anti-immigration, thereby conflating illegal with legal immigration to create a wedge issue. Yet the roughly 75 percent of immigrants who earned their way in the front door should not be conflated with the 25 percent who partake of our treasured liberty, as well as our treasure, by sneaking in the back door.
Republicans should challenge at every turn the Democratic accusation that Republicans are "anti-immigrant." The correct answer is that we are for immigration under the rule of law.
Another caution for Republicans is accepting the notion that Hispanic immigrants will flock to the Democrats in search of every entitlement known to man.
The Wall Street Journal observes in their summary of the Pew immigration report that "while religious persecution and escape from violent conflict can be factors in migration, the single largest driver is economic opportunity, immigration experts say."
From that standpoint, Mitt Romney is on target in positing a choice between an entitlement society and an opportunity society. Immigrants come here for that economic opportunity, not for Obama's handouts and mandates.
Pew's lead researcher on the immigrant study adds "still, people bring their faith with them when they move."
So while the vast majorities of both Americans and immigrants in America are Christian, and more than half of Americans say religion is very important in their lives, the president continues to prod and poke at the moral underpinnings of our society in his drive to reach fundamental transformation.
Imparting perspective on demographics and religion, David P. Goldman's 2011 book How Civilizations Die cites demographics making a compelling case that much of the world's populations are in the process of crashing, with profound implications for the future.
Peoples who give up hope in the future, bonds to the past, and faith in themselves and God tend to stop reproducing, leading to an aging population and eventual collapse. Goldman discusses the same process in ancient civilizations, the Bible, and the modern world:
The highest fertility rates in the developed world are found in countries with a high degree of religious faith, namely the United States and Israel. Dozens of new studies document the link between religious belief and fertility[.]1
... What makes America utterly and completely exceptional among the industrial countries, in short, is that it will still be here in a hundred years. It is not that Americans in general are having children, but that Americans of faith are having children. In both Europe and America, people who practice a religion have far more children than those who do not. It's just that there are far more Americans than Europeans practicing a faith.2
In his hubris and haste, the president has tipped his hand, showing all Americans of faith just where their free exercise of religion stands in Obama's imperious new world.
1. How Civilizations Die, David P. Goldman, 2011, p. xv
2. Ibid, pp. 191-192