Tribes

Which of the twelve tribes are you a member of? No, I write not of Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, Benjamin, and others of the twelve sons of Jacob. This categorization is a handy-dandy modern grouping of various “religious groups that comprise the U.S. electorate”, according to the article, title “The Twelve Tribes of American Politics,” at beliefnet.

While this categorization might be of interest to some, I’m not sure it sheds much light on what the real distinctions in belief might be among these various groups. It is also a little demeaning in my not-so-humble opinion (John Luke, just keep repeating, Micah 6:8 to yourself…), to lump such diverse groups as “Black Protestants”, “Latinos” and “Jews” into categories that sound vaguely, well, more racial than related to core beliefs.

Unstated, though it might as well be, is that these are a secularist’s view of religion. How else to explain the lack of separation of the fundamentalist Orthodox Jews from those whose Jewish identity starts and ends with eating bagels and lox? Also, the too-clever by half distinction between “Moderate Evangelicals” and the “Religious Right”, not to mention that “Black Protestants” are just as likely, if not more so, to be primarily evangelical.

The lumping of the incredibly diverse “Latinos” into a single grouping based on belief is no more credible, and, again, slightly racist. Anyone who has spent any time talking with Miami Cubanos knows that this group is about as far removed from Mexican day trabajadores as a Boston Brahmin is from an Appalachian sharecropper. Yes, both groups allegedly speak Spanish, but I can tell you from personal experience that these sound like two entirely different languages.

Beliefnet comes across as trying too hard to downplay the impact of so-called religious conservatives, by basically splitting them into three “tribes” – “Religious Right”, “Heartland Cultural Warriors”, and “Moderate Evangelicals.” In the aggregate, these three groups comprise just under 35% of the elctorate (according to beliefnet). And, not to forget, that black churchgoers tend to sound a lot more like white evangelicals, having ties that bind them like unto cords of steel – their Christian witness. It is safe to assume that all are motivated by Scripture (Matthew 28:19-20) to evangelize. My central point being that what makes these groups alike is much more important than what separates them.

Beliefnet does tag the three groupings as being “pro-life, pro-war and anti-gay-rights,” even the “Moderate Evangelicals.” Pro-war? You don’t suppose that beliefnet has a liberal spin, do you? To call evangelical Christians “pro-war” is to fundamentally (sorry ’bout that) misunderstand where we evangelicals stand on peace and war.

From the Southern Baptist Faith and Message, Art.XVI, Peace and War:

It is the duty of Christians to seek peace with all men on principles of righteousness. In accordance with the spirit and teachings of Christ they should do all in their power to put an end to war.

The true remedy for the war spirit is the gospel of our Lord. The supreme need of the world is the acceptance of His teachings in all the affairs of men and nations, and the practical application of His law of love. Christian people throughout the world should pray for the reign of the Prince of Peace.

Real bunch of warmongers, them pesky Baptists. Hardly “pro-war.” Perhaps we Baptists aren’t evangelicals, after all…

The money quote from the entire enterprise at beliefnet is this whopper:

The biggest finding: The Religious Right and the Religious Left are almost exactly the same size. The former has had a much greater impact for the past 25 years largely because of superior organization and drive.

Actually, perhaps what is narrowly labeled as the “Religious Right” would be more accurately called faithful evangelical Christians.

As for any “greater impact”, perhaps, just perhaps, this is because the basic beliefs of the “Relgious Right” are actually shared by a much larger number of evangelicals, white, black, and are more than likely joined in cultural matters by Orthodox Jews and (perhaps) uslims.

The “greater impact” thus comes from the bedrock of the many, whose faith is not pale and wan; people, yes, of several faiths, who seem to share an abiding sense of right and wrong, of what is acceptable in the eyes of God, and what is not. It is this last that really annoys liberals and moral relativists.

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