Religious-right pressure groups and their leaders regularly encourage Christians to get out to the polls and vote for candidates who support their political agenda. On Monday, for example, the far-right organization Restore America sent out a mass e-mail calling for churches across the country to register Christians to vote in the November general election. Of course, we applaud all institutions — Christian or non-Christian, religious or secular — that seek to increase civic involvement among their members. But this part of Restore America’s e-mail caught our eye:
“Of the 52 million voter eligible Christians in America, 10 million were not registered to vote for the 2006 Election, and over 20 million who were registered, did not vote! . . . Bible believing Christians in America who are eligible to Vote, make up 24% of all eligible voters.”
Really? Only 22 million Christians voted in 2006?
More than 207 million Americans were eligible to vote in the 2006 general election, and nearly 86 million voted. The suggestion that only a quarter of those voters were Christians is just absurd.
Moreover, Restore America claims only a quarter of eligible voters are “Bible believing” Christians. Nearly 213 million Americans were eligible to vote in the 2008 general election, with more than 132 million actually going to the polls. According to exit polling, more than 80 percent of voters that year identified themselves as Protestants or Roman Catholics. That means more than 105 million voters (at least) self-identified as Christians.
Looks to us like Restore America is leaving out a whole lot of folks from its count of Christians in this country. But don’t be surprised — those who don’t subscribe to the religious right’s narrow, rigid ideological agenda don’t make the cut. So when people like David Barton and Cynthia Dunbar argue that our nation’s laws and society should be based on the Christian Bible, remember that they mean their own interpretations of the Bible. The opinions of people who don’t meet their criteria for being proper Christians simply don’t count.