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Two Oklahomans weigh in on new Pew Research Center survey

The findings of the latest Pew Research Center survey were released at an interesting time, just as the country's political parties are set to host their respective conventions.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a rally July 12 in Westfield, Ind. [AP Photo/Darron Cummings]
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a rally July 12 in Westfield, Ind. [AP Photo/Darron Cummings]

The new survey looks at the religious affiliations of people planning to vote in the coming presidential election.

According to the survey's findings, evangelical voters are rallying strongly in favor of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, religiously unaffiliated voters, those who describe their religion as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular,” say they are backing Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Also, the survey also shows that a declining share of Americans say they want a president with firm religious convictions. According to the survey finding, just 62% of U.S. adults say it is important to them that the president has strong religious beliefs, down from 67% in 2012 and 72% in 2008. 

The Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. 

I had very little time to gather opinions about these latest findings because I was working on several other stories. However, I did talk to two Oklahomans who shared their thoughts with me. One is the Rev. Paul Blair, a Republican who is senior pastor of Fairview Baptist Church in Edmond and president of Reclaim America for Christ. The other is Red McCall, an Oklahoma City atheist who formerly served as president of the group Oklahoma Atheists.

I asked them if the survey's results surprised them at all and what they thought of the findings in general. Here's what they said:

Rev. Paul Blair: The Democratic Platform has changed dramatically from the days of JFK.  Their platform embraces same-sex marriage, abortion and is anti-Israel.  These positions obviously are not consistent with a traditional Biblical Worldview.  Consequently, those who identify as atheist and agnostic or simply "not-religious" would identify with the Democratic platform and their nominee for President who happens to be Hillary Clinton. 

I believe the excitement for Trump over Romney is due to three factors.  First, the country is getting much worse every year and is noticeably in worse shape than four years ago.  We see division in our country that has not been seen since the 1960's, the debt is approaching $20 trillion (having doubled during the Obama presidency), we have never paid more and gotten less for our health insurance dollars, the Middle East is on fire and Christianity is legitimately under attack in America.  Second, Romney was so milquetoast that he didn't stir the passions of the electorate.  Most people have little doubt that Trump is a successful businessman and a genuine patriot who loves this country and wants to defend it. The final factor would be the Supreme Court.  Although we were never designed to be ruled by 5 non-elected attorneys, that is what we have become in practice.  The justices appointed by the next President will have a tremendous influence on the future of our country.

Note:  I supported (Ted) Cruz in the primary, but will vote from Trump in the general election. 

Red McCall:  It's not really surprising to me, much like the report that came out a couple of years ago, the national trend is that people are becoming more secular.

I'm not surprised that evangelicals say they are voting for Trump and "nones" say they are voting for Clinton. What does surprise me is that people voting for Trump actually think Trump is Christian; he's shown no signs of it. It seems more like pandering, since he doesn't really have a history with a Christian church or any other religious organization, from what I've seen. That's surprising but I think it's only surprising to an extent because often Democrats are not necessary seen as, at least recently in the last 100 years, being people that are going to back particular religions. They are not going to say they are going to back religions and traditionally, Republicans are the ones to say that they are religious. It tends to be the pattern that if you are really religious, you are typically Republican. They tend to go hand in hand -- not 100 percent -- put that tends to be the pattern. 

Also, just because someone is described as a "none," they still could be Christian. The common thing that a lot of people around here believe, at least as far as inside Christianity, that if you're not part of a sect of Christianity, if you're not Baptist or Catholic or Mormon or Jehovah's Witness or anything like that, then you are not religious. But so many people around here are Christian but they just don't really subscribe to the tenets of the different sects that are out there. They might still believe that Jesus is the Son of God, they might still pray, they might follow all of the things that mean that they are religious but they are using a definition that's different from what's commonly referred to as "religious." Many congregations are trying to tell their people how to treat the LGBT community and a lot of young people are just not going for that. They might believe in God, they might believe in Jesus, but they don't necessarily have to believe what their pastor is telling them.

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If you haven't read the complete story about the latest Pew survey and these comments have stirred your interest, here's a link to the full story. Or go pick up a hard copy of The Oklahoman and you will find the story on the cover of the Life section.

Carla Hinton

Religion Editor

 

Related Photos
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a rally July 12 in Westfield, Ind. [AP Photo/Darron Cummings]

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a rally July 12 in Westfield, Ind. [AP Photo/Darron Cummings]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-668d1b7344c4acb23f41786a6da50244.jpg" alt="Photo - Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a rally July 12 in Westfield, Ind. [AP Photo/Darron Cummings]" title="Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a rally July 12 in Westfield, Ind. [AP Photo/Darron Cummings]"><figcaption>Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a rally July 12 in Westfield, Ind. [AP Photo/Darron Cummings]</figcaption></figure>
Carla Hinton

Carla Hinton, an Oklahoma City native, joined The Oklahoman in 1986 as a National Society of Newspaper Editors minority intern. She began reporting full-time for The Oklahoman two years later and has served as a beat writer covering a wide... Read more ›

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