President-Elect Obama - Twentysomething Religion and the New Generation Gap? ~ Praxis Habitus - On Race Religion & Culture

Sunday, December 28, 2008

President-Elect Obama - Twentysomething Religion and the New Generation Gap?

A new article from US News and World Report suggests that Obama's election indicates a new generational divide. As others have speculated, there is a very real possibility that the decisive shift among younger voters to embrace more left-centrist ideas, policies, and principles is racially altering the ministry and outreach of American congregations.

From the article:

"The constituency Obama assembled during his campaign has a decided new-generational tilt. The Edison/Mitofsky exit poll tells us that Obama carried voters under age 30 by a margin of 66 percent to 32 percent. On the flip side, by my calculation, he won voters 30 and over by just 50 percent to 49 percent. That means that he won by a larger percent­age among young voters than any president and that among voters older than that, he may not have carried states with a majority of electoral votes.

"In retrospect, the only win­ning Republican strategy would have been to pass a consti­tutional amendment raising the voting age to 35."

Discerning these age-markers is tricky business, but voting patterns offer one quick way of seeing proportions of sympathies between different age groups. For evangelicals, this development signifies a continuing move away from the Religious Right as younger evangelicals simply do not believe the failure to embrace certain conservative policies means the failure to life a God-honoring life.

We have yet to see if a new form of conservatism might grip some proportion of young adults (a new, unanticipated brand of religiously committed young adults?), but today I would predict a diversification of viewpoints that will lead religiously-inclined young adults to apply a label first ("Yes, I'm a democrat...") which is quickly followed by further explanation ("and for me that means...").

I also assume that the perceived success/failure of the Obama presidency will determine whether younger adults decisively maintain their center-left profile. A rejection of such policies may be just around the corner.

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