This Week in God

THIS WEEK IN GOD…. First up from the God Machine this week is an interesting report from the Pew Forum, using data from the group’s 2007 U.S. Religious Landscape Survey to note the most politically conservative religious group. It’s not, as it turns out, evangelical Christians.

More Mormons (60 percent) identify themselves as conservatives than any other religious group; they also lead every other group in GOP party identification (at 65 percent) — much higher than the general population in both categories. […]

Keep in mind that GOP identification is very low right now — only 35 percent of the general population identify themselves as Republicans — making the Mormon numbers even higher by comparison. Evangelicals, for instance–a group that has, for the past decade, been counted as an influential Republican voting bloc — identify with the GOP at a 50 percent rate, a full 15 percent lower than Mormons.

The only group that’s more partisan is members of historically black churches, according to Pew, 77 percent of whom identify themselves as Democrats. (Though that’s more of a racial subset of a religious category, than it is a religious category in its own right.)

On the other end of the spectrum, the faith traditions most likely to identify themselves as liberal and Democratic are Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, and African-American Protestants.

Also from the God Machine this week:

* New USAID controversy of note: “The U.S. Agency for International Development funded programs that rebuilt Iraqi mosques and used biblical lessons to promote sexual abstinence in Africa, despite a prohibition on the use of taxpayer funds to support ‘inherently religious activities,’ according to a new audit by the agency’s inspector general.”

* Former President Jimmy Carter officially gave up on the Southern Baptist Convention several years ago, but this week, continued this week to criticize it and other faith traditions who argue that “women are somehow inferior to men.”

* The Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a lawsuit this week to stop Congress from spending $100,000 in public funds to engrave the words “In God We Trust” and the Pledge of Allegiance in prominent spots at the Capitol Visitor Center in Washington.

* In related news, there’s apparently a something of a “de-baptism” movement among atheists. USA Today reported this week, “Within the past year, ‘de-baptism’ ceremonies have attracted as many as 250 participants at atheist conventions in Ohio, Texas, Florida and Georgia.”

* And yesterday, a jury in Arkansas convicted Tony Alamo, founder and leader of Tony Alamo Christian Ministries, of 10 federal counts of taking minors across state lines for sex.