Recent polling by The Pew Forum, the results of which were published on August 21, 2008, found an interesting – and unusual – deviation in conservative voters' views on the issue of the separation of church and state as opposed to their views on the same subject during the 2004 presidential election. What does this mean for the age-old argument concerning our founding fathers and the debate on the separation of church and state?
The Pew Forum states "disillusionment" as the rationale behind this change of heart, with a growing number of religious conservatives indicating they would prefer less mixing of politics and religious bodies and less of politicians talking up their personal religious convictions.
Four years ago, only 30% of conservatives believed that religious institutions should stay clear and out of politics; today that number has grown to 50%. The sharp contrast between Democrats and Republicans that previously existed on this issue are now blurred – enough so that the Pew Forum says they have "disappeared" altogether.
Perhaps this disillusionment stems not only from an unpopular Presidency, but from the loss of the political power radical Evangelicalism held in this country four, and even eight, years ago. It would not be an understatement to say that evangelicals possessed a strong hold over our political and soon-to-be elected officials during the last two presidential elections; it also enjoyed a vast network of believers amongst American citizens. It was a belief system that believed – nay, promulgated – the "return" to this nation's supposed Christian ideals and methods of governing, and it would not be a far stretch to say that Americans have had a change of heart after seeing firsthand that such beliefs do little to "improve" the state of things in our country.
Today, according to The Pew Forum poll, Democrats and Republicans are equally divided on the issue of separating church and state. Whether this is entirely due to the abundance of criticism for our current government, or because more people have come to understand that our founding fathers never intended for church and state to be mixed, one cannot say with absolute certainty. Whatever the reason, it is certainly a boon to those of us that – through careful research and study – have determined that the founders of this nation were never fundamental Christians and that they ever intended this country to be founded on such values.