Beyond the God Gap

June 23, 2010

Author: Jim Kessler and Robert P. Jones

Source: The Huffington Post

"Insofar as Evangelicals have demonized gays and lesbians [they] should repent before God." Was it Jon Stewart who said that? Bill Maher? Barney Frank? No, it was said by an Evangelical pastor of a Southern megachurch -- a conservative who calls Mike Huckabee a friend. We live in a new era, marked by an aging and declining Christian right that is increasingly eclipsed by the Tea Party, a nascent but growing chorus of diverse progressive religious voices, and a broadening of political agendas among many people of faith. Maybe it's time to rethink our assumptions about religious Americans and public policy.

That conviction is the guiding principle of a new paper called Beyond the God Gap, which provides a road map for navigating the complex terrain of religion and public policy in America. Our team brought a diverse set of expertise and experience to this project. One author is a public policy veteran who grew up in a liberal, Jewish, suburban household outside of Philadelphia and was raised to believe that many Christians, especially those in the South, were close-minded reactionaries able to justify abhorrent practices like racism through selective interpretations of the Bible. The other is a scholar of American religion who was raised Southern Baptist in Mississippi, attended church every Sunday, and grew up hearing that the political left was largely opposed to religious values.