American flag waving in blue skyWritten by Don Byrd

Americans are predictable, according to a new Gallup survey. Our level of religiosity is a strong indicator of political preference.

Even as overall party identification trends in the U.S. have shifted over the past six and half years, the relationship between religion and party identification has remained consistent. Very religious Americans are more likely to identify with or lean toward the Republican Party and less frequently identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party, compared with those who are moderately or nonreligious.

If you follow politics, this is not surprising, but it is troubling.

Advertisers collect detailed information about our lives, but political operatives have learned that our religion tells them almost all they need to know. Such a close correlation means politicians can stereotype, pigeon-hole, divide, and exploit their constituents based on religious demographics. And it works. We voters, in the process, learn to champion a political persuasion for its religious content, or lack thereof.

At its best, religion is a moral voice holding government accountable when necessary, not an arm of its political machinery. Today, instead, our churches too often sound more like convention halls, our political speeches more like sermons.

Gallup says Americans have settled in along these political battle lines. This can’t be good for our politics. And it surely isn’t good for our religion. A sad acknowledgement of the state of both.