Extreme Right-Wing Politics Is Fuelling Religious Decline In US, Experts Say
Extreme right-wing politics is fuelling a religious decline in the US, experts have said.
Many Americans, especially younger people, see religion as ‘bound-up’ with the Republican party, David Campbell, a professor at the University of Notre Dame told The Guardian this week.
‘Since that is not their party or their politics, they do not want to identify as being religious. Young people are especially allergic to the perception that many – but by no means all – American religions are hostile to LGBTQ rights,’ he said.
His comments come after a new poll by Gallup found that just 47% of people in the US belong to a house of worship, down from 50% in 2018 and 70% in 1999.
Gallup found that declines in church memberships were proportionately smaller among Republicans and greater among Democrats.
In 2016, a National Election Pool Exit Survey found that a staggering 75% of evangelical Christians had supported Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton.
Michele Margolis, associate professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania, told The Guardian that the decline in church memberships amongst Democrats is in parallel with a growing fusion between Republican politics and religion.
This year, several Republican states have introduced legislation that directly targets LGBTQ+ rights. These include banning transgender women and girls from participating in school and college sports teams and restricting young transgender people’s access to health care.
In March, Arkansas – a Republican state that Trump won in the 2020 election by more than 300,000 votes – passed an anti-transgender bill regarding healthcare for transgender youth.
The new legislation, if signed into law by Governor Asa Hutchinson, will prohibit doctors from providing gender-affirming medical care to young transgender people.
The bill, named ‘Save Adolescents From Experimentation (SAFE) Act’ also states doctors cannot transfer young people to other providers for treatment.
Chase Strangio, deputy director for transgender justice at the American Civil Liberties Union, described SAFE as the ‘single most extreme anti-trans law to ever pass through a state legislature’.
‘There have been many existential threats to trans existence, but there’s something uniquely dangerous about what’s going on right at this moment with the combination of the sports bills and the health care bills. I think the impulse underlying both is to try to establish governmental policy that it’s harmful to be trans,’ Strangio told CNN.
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