Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Anger Gap

Jeffrey Feldman has a great post up over at the Huffington Post about answering the anti-Christian charge that conservatives often level at liberals, especially during the recent Edwards campaign hullabaloo. One thing that I found really interesting was in a table (above, from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, here). Notice how in one year and a half the number of people who thought that religious folk were discriminated against rose by 12%, and the number who didn't dropped by a similar number. There may have been people who interpreted this question differently and thought it was referring to people with strong non-Christian religious beliefs, but that doesn't account for the change.

What this is telling us is that many people who think that Christians are discriminated against aren't basing their opinions on reality. Really, could anyone argue that there's been a significant enough change during 2005, a year where both houses of Congress and the White House were controlled by the GOP, to account for such a change? (Well, they wouldn't have very good arguments if they did.) So, if the change wasn't based on a change in actual policy, the next most likely culprit is a rhetorical shift, which would imply that those who think that such discrimination exists do so because of the rhetoric of Bill Donohue and his sort.

Which is why the solution to this problem (of a potentially very progressive institution being hijacked by the Right) is going to have to be a rhetorical one as well. Like everything in American politics, the religious debate is going to be more about form than substance.

(Crossposted to bilerico)

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