The election has been over for days, but media scrutiny and analysis persist. We’ve rounded up a selection of articles from around the web that consider the role religion played in the vote, and the role it might continue to play as Obama transitions into the White House.
Many recognized Obama’s relative success in winning over the religious vote. The Christian Science Monitor reports that he drew significant support from those of all religious backgrounds, a group Beliefnet’s Steve Waldman deems Obama’s “new faith coalition.” Waldman, writing in the Wall Street Journal‘s “Political Perceptions” blog, also looks at how the president-elect, unlike Democrats in the recent past, was able to lure millions of religious voters. The Pew Forum offers a deeper look in a feature comparing the religious affiliations and worship attendance of voters in the three most recent elections.
Others are slightly more pessimistic. Contending that the “religiously active mostly retained their traditionally conservative voting patterns,” the Weekly Standard wonders whether Obama’s religious outreach paid off. Meanwhile, the Reuters blog FaithWorld asks its readers if they think Democrats will be able to hold the gains they’ve made with faith voters.
Much of the post-election coverage thus far has centered on the evangelical vote. As Laura Duane noted the day after the election, Ted Olsen created an interactive map of the evangelical vote at Christianity Today. Ralph Reed, former Christian Coalition director and religious outreach advisor to Bush, also offers his opinion, and in the New York Times Laurie Goodstein focuses on Obama’s success among younger evangelicals.
Amy Sullivan reports on the large constituency of white evangelicals that Obama failed to win over, while Sarah Pulliam wonders if evangelicals will be able to learn to work with the new administration. At Newsweek, Lisa Miller considers the religious building blocks of Obama’s victory in a “post-evangelical America,” while Douglas LeBlanc over at Get Religion takes issue with this characterization. Finally, Frank Schaeffer argues at the Huffington Post that an Obama presidency spells trouble for both the Religious Right and the New Atheists.
Beyond the focus on evangelicals, Faith & Reason, a USA Today blog, examines the role economic issues played for mainline Protestants in the election. As Ruth Braunstein previously noted at here & there, God-O-Meter’s Dan Gilgoff contends that the matter of the economy shouldn’t be clouded by religiosity when analyzing voter loyalties. That said, Faith in Public Life’s Kristin Williams argues for “a more nuanced story” recognizing that some religious voters have grown more attuned to “the moral imperatives inherent in economic policy” thanks to outreach by organizations associated with the Religious Left. In addition, a Christian Post article offers the reaction of the National Council of Churches to Obama’s victory, while Michael Paulson discusses the significance of the Catholic vote, and the congratulatory remarks of its leaders, in his Boston Globe blog, Articles of Faith.
No recent coverage of this election would be complete without the Muslim perspective. Reuters reports that the smears against Obama during the campaign mobilized Muslim voters, but three commentaries on Islam and the election offer varying outlooks. Both Lorraine Ali and Nicole Neroulias write about Muslim support for Obama, and relief as a result of his victory, but also mention their frustration with his reluctance to speak out against implications that being Muslim is a negative thing. The New York Times, on the other hand, interviews students at New York University who admit they have mixed emotions about the new president.
It is safe to say that regardless of religious affiliation, Barack Obama’s election has energized America. Katherine Mitchell refers to it as “a new dawn” in the Washington Post blog, On Faith. But a piece at Religious Dispatches puts the excitement in check. In “Neither Christ Nor Antichrist,” Edward J. Blum warns that we court trouble when we think of Obama as “savior-elect.” He writes:
Obama is neither the Antichrist, nor a new Christ. I cannot write this as a prophet or theologian, for I am neither of those. I cannot write it as a historian for the tools of my trade provide no evidence for either. Instead, I write it as a citizen of this nation and the world. To attack Obama as the end of the world seems silly, but to vest in him the hopes for a national and world transformation seem equally troubling.
For other perspectives on the implications of Barack Obama’s election, read “American Democracy and African Liberation” by Alex de Waal at the SSRC blog Making Sense of Darfur and listen to a Craig Calhoun’s latest podcast discussion with Paul Price, “The ‘Here We Are’ in ‘Yes We Can.'” Finally, don’t miss recent posts on the election in The Immanent Frame discussion “Religion & American politics.”