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November 1st, 2010
06:22 PM ET

My take: Which religious voters will show up on Tuesday?

Editor's Note: Anthea Butler is Associate Professor of Religious studies at the University of Pennsylvania and is an expert on Black churches, evangelicalism and the religious right.

By Anthea Butler, Special to CNN

The focus throughout the mid-term campaign has been on the Tea Partiers and predominately white religious communities supporting Republican or Tea Party Candidates. What about other religious communities of African Americans and Latino’s? These constituencies, facing immigration issues, foreclosures, and high unemployment levels, have social issues requiring urgent action.

For Latino and African American Voters of faith, the traditional appeal to values voting or litmus tests applied to candidates are not the sole means of vetting candidates.

Social concerns often drive voting from these religious communities.

In the present economic and social climate, many of these voters are looking for different values, based in community care, uplift, and long-term social solutions. Many of these concerns are often based in religious practices. Examples are days of prayer and fasting for immigration reform, food banks, and programs to assist immigrants. Yet each of these ethnic communities will deal with the 2010 vote in different ways.

Latino voters of faith in Nevada, Arizona and California and Florida could tip the scales between Democratic, Republican, and Tea Party candidates. The small gains the Republican Party previously made within the Latino community have been washed away with strict platforms on immigration and amnesty.

The hard line against immigration clashes with Catholic and some mainstream Protestant beliefs, found in the bible, about showing hospitality to strangers.

Despite candidate pleas to morality and values voting, Latino’s are for the most part, breaking away to vote with candidates who favor some type of immigration reform that will protect those who are not legal citizens. Incidents such as Carly Fiorina’s repudiation and firing of her maid, along with Sharon Angles’ campaign commercials depictions of Latino men illegally crossing the border, have helped to mobilize Latino churches for voter registration drives.

Similarly, Latino candidates themselves cannot count on “affiliation” voting. Marco Rubio’s close connections to the Tea Party could alienate Latino voters from him, despite all of his outreach efforts.

For African American churchgoers, get out the vote efforts have been in effect in full force and from the pulpits of churches across the nation.

President Obama began making a pitch to Black voters in September when he gave an impassioned speech to the Congressional Black Caucus to mobilize Black voters for the for the midterm elections. Yet the wholesale acceptance of Black voters for Obama in 2008 may not translate fully into the 2010 election.

Testing the long-standing coalition between candidates, black pastors, and the congregations, the 14 Black Republican Candidates in the midterms could peel some black voters away from the Democratic Party.

In Florida, Kendrick Meeks may not be able to count on votes from African Americans because of the rumors surrounding being asked to withdraw his name from the race. Pastors of congregations hoping for political clout, will not back a candidate who is running last in a three-man race.

The biggest issue facing the African American community of faith is voter apathy. Voters beleaguered by issues of debt, unemployment, and foreclosures are not apt to find solace in candidates who are not providing solutions to these pressing community issues.

The coalition of black churches in urban communities can no longer be counted on for block Democratic votes, and despite the president’s pleas, he may find that his most loyal constituency will not be able to bring significant wins to the Democratic column come Tuesday.

Wednesday morning will be a very different situation in both communities, and how these communities vote will be crucial to the results.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Anthea Butler.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Black issues • Christianity • Faith Now • Latino issues • Politics • Race • Tea Party

soundoff (166 Responses)
  1. Gary

    I am an agnostic who voted republican straight ticket. I believe in protecting our boarders,strong military low taxes and small government. Not all us tea party activists are religious nuts....90% of blacks vote democratic and 79% profess to be religious.

    November 3, 2010 at 8:50 pm |
  2. Reality

    It makes no difference who is in political power with respect to the economy which was the number one issue in the election. And the economy is suffering at the moment as we just have too much of everything, too many cars, too many houses/apartments/condos/office buildings/shopping centers, too many electronic gadgets et al and easy ways of recycling them with sites like eBay/. The "car clunker/gas hog" removial program was successful. We now need to a programs for example not to build new buildings on empty lots but to tear down old buildings and rebuild them on the same lots. Or demolish empty shopping centers even towns and cities and convert them into parks.

    November 3, 2010 at 5:59 pm |
  3. Mark from Middle River

    Quest – Its going to be hard to say or report to you here possible reasons for the Demcorat losses last night because most reasons will set off the "Your comment is awaiting moderation." message.

    I have tried to list a few non-flame respectful reasons but after six "Your comment is awaiting moderation." messages I give up. Basically, the dems should have listened more and respected that anyone who doubted or questioned their reforms where not mindless vessels that just needed to be treated like children.

    November 3, 2010 at 9:00 am |
    • JohnQuest

      I disagree, I did not support the previous administration but they were very effective in getting their agenda. They did not try to appease the Dems, the knew what they wanted and that's what they did. I thought the dems should have adopted the same methods, we would have a public option, immigration reform, Iraqi and Afgan would be over, they lost because they were weak.

      November 3, 2010 at 1:21 pm |
  4. JohnQuest

    Dems Lost the House, I often wonder why any average American would vote to a repu, if you know please tell me, I just don't get it.

    November 3, 2010 at 7:54 am |
    • Gary

      we need less taxes smaller government. We need to protect our boarders. the list goes on and on. demos appeal to poverty they perpetuate poverty ..... as a staunch agnostic who really gets it....

      November 3, 2010 at 9:04 pm |
  5. Grammar Rules

    The plural of Latino is "Latinos", both in English and Spanish. It is not "Latino's." Sloppy grammar makes me lose interest in reading anything fast, regardless of how convincing or interesting the article may be.

    November 3, 2010 at 3:44 am |
  6. Dems Lost the House

    The Right needed 39, they'll have between 60 and 70. Too Bad – You're Sad – I'm Glad!

    November 3, 2010 at 12:46 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Yes, but at least the W_tch and the B_tch got defeated, and they will likely be blamed for the GOP not winning the Senate.

      November 3, 2010 at 1:00 am |
  7. Iqbal khan

    November 2, 2010 at 9:05 pm |
    • Reality

      And khan still is being conned as he continues to suffer from the Three B Syndrome, Bred, Born and Brainwashed in Islam!!!

      November 3, 2010 at 11:10 am |
  8. Iqbal khan

    November 2, 2010 at 9:03 pm |
  9. JohnQuest

    Moment_of_Faith and Religious Jerk, the idea of Christianity is a fantastical to me as Zeus or Santa Claus. I believe if someone applies the same logic to Christianity as they do to Zeus and Santa I think they will come to the same conclusion about each, well I did anyway. But remember I did not grow up believing any of it, I had to study it.

    November 2, 2010 at 5:27 pm |
    • Moment_of_Faith

      The bible is the only book I know of that gives you from the beginning to the end. It tells you about the good, the bad and the ugly. It is where our morals come from and what happens when we don't follow those morals. Just look at the signs that God / Jesus will be at the end of times .. He said all these things would be happening at the same time..
      Israel becoming a nation again
      Israel will be in possession of Jerusalem
      when Israel is surrounded by armies no time is near
      Earthquakes
      Seas roaring
      nations in distress with perplexity
      wars and terrorism
      days of Noah and lot
      the generation at the end
      2 Timothy 3:1-5, 7
      "Difficult Times Will Come"
      1But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come.
      2For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.
      but my favorite in
      7always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
      Scoffers will come asking where is your GOD
      A falling away for Jesus must come first
      Daniel said it would be a knowledge increase

      November 2, 2010 at 5:43 pm |
    • Religious Jerk

      JQ, it is fantastical, isn't it? I totally agree with you there. Like I mentioned in my other recent post, I looked at what I considered to be "the evidence" as objectively as I could and found myself at a point where, for me, I had no choice but to see Jesus as either a complete nutcase with nutcase followers, a liar which would make him and equal of any of the politicians on the scene in the U.S. today or...he was someone entirely different and unique from either of those things. Obviously, I settled on the latter and then had to wrestle with the implications of what I believed that uniqueness was...a life surrounded by miraculous happenings, a life where he made very unique claims of diety and, just as he confounded the Jewish authorities, he was a shock to the real people he came across. Based on that–2 or 3 sentences are pretty simplistic–I found myself at a point to either accept or reject Jesus. I accepted...on faith cuz I can't PROVE to you or anyone else that Jesus is God. I don't think it makes me particularly smart nor a blithering idiot. Nor does it make me any better than you, or Peanut, or my next door neighbor. I am just a guy trying to follow in the historical footsteps of Jesus as best I can. I want no power, I don't want to dominate anyone or subjugate them to my beliefs, I just do my best (which at times is pretty miserable) to walk the type of life He would smile upon.

      November 2, 2010 at 6:00 pm |
    • civilioutside

      Ah, the good ol' days when there were no earthquakes, or tsunamis, or floods, or hurricanes, when all the nations of the earth lived together in harmony, the selfish and self-important weren't in charge of governments or finances, and everyone the world over loved God and Jesus Christ. Darn, I seem to have lost the dates on that period in history that we have so sadly left behind. When was it again?

      November 3, 2010 at 7:43 am |
    • Reality

      "Nineteenth-century agnostic Robert G. Ingersoll branded Revelation "the insanest of all books".[30] Thomas Jefferson omitted it along with most of the Biblical canon, from the Jefferson Bible, and wrote that at one time, he "considered it as merely the ravings of a maniac, no more worthy nor capable of explanation than the incoherences of our own nightly dreams." [31]

      Martin Luther "found it an offensive piece of work" and John Calvin "had grave doubts about its value."[32]

      And from: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482

      New Torah For Modern Minds

      Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

      Such startling propositions - the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years - have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity - until now.

      The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine doc-ument. "

      November 3, 2010 at 11:07 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.