In the wake of the deadly shootings in Charleston, South Carolina, and in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, the topic of religion and terrorism has been a hot button issue on both sides of the aisle.
But in a strange twist, the issue of religion has actually gotten more attention than religion itself in the media.
“I’ve never seen this issue get more attention in the national media than it did in the last two years,” David Brooks, a former chief White House reporter at The New York Times and Fox News, told me in an interview.
“The last thing you want to do is make religion more acceptable, more accessible, more acceptable to the American public.”
A new study published this week in the journal Science suggests that religious Americans are not simply a different religion than those who don’t attend church, but that they are more liberal than the general public.
Researchers surveyed 2,000 Americans, including 3,000 religious people, who identified themselves as atheists, agnostics, and theists, and asked them questions about their beliefs, including whether they believed in God, the afterlife, and other such topics.
The study’s findings, which were based on a sample of 5,000 interviews, found that religious people were significantly more likely to have liberal views than the other groups surveyed.
“Religious people are much more liberal,” said Michael Sperling, a sociology professor at Stanford University and co-author of the study.
“They are less conservative, they are less traditional, and they are not as concerned with religion as secular Americans are.”
Sperlings also pointed to a 2014 Pew Research Center study that found religious Americans were more likely than secular Americans to be very likely to report having read the Bible and believe that religion is the only true way to live.
“It’s hard to imagine a more liberal, less traditional form of Christianity,” Sperings told me.
“A religion that has been so successful at persuading the public to not believe in God and accept the authority of the pope and the apostles and so on is a religion that is a threat to the status quo.”
What is it about religion that makes it so appealing?
Brooks, the author of The Culture of Critique, has spent much of his career working in the news media and media organizations.
He told me that religion often plays a role in how the media deals with its news.
He said he believes that the media has a responsibility to be a good steward of the public interest and not just an arm of government.
“If you can’t do your job of reporting and the press is not doing its job of serving you, then you’re not serving the public,” Brooks said.
“When we see a lot of journalists trying to hide the truth, hiding their biases, hiding the agendas of people, then it’s not a news organization.
It’s a business.
And it’s an ugly business.
It doesn’t deserve to be called a news organisation.
It deserves to be branded as a news business.”
But he added that, “Religion is a very important element of American culture.”
“It is one of the things that makes us the most powerful people on Earth,” he said.
Brooks added that it is important for news outlets to be sensitive to the fact that they don’t just “have to report what the news is telling you, but to tell the story of the people who have been most impacted by that news.”
“If we don’t cover the story, it’s going to feel like a political attack,” he explained.
“You are not doing your job.”
“People get offended when we call people to account for their bias, when we treat people as though they’re in a bubble,” Smerling added.
“But you can also treat people like adults, as human beings, and as responsible for their actions.
If we are not, then the press and the public will not be as tolerant of the stories we tell.”
The Pew study also found that people who said they attend church weekly or more often were more conservative than people who attended less often or didn’t attend at all.
“People who have attended church more frequently are less likely to believe in a God, less likely not to believe that a deity exists, less apt to believe there is a afterlife, less inclined to think there is an afterlife, more likely not believe that Christianity is the most important religious belief in the world, and less likely in any of these other ways,” Skelberg told me during our conversation.
“So, there’s something there for people who are religious and non-religious.
But people who don [at least] a small part of the time aren’t.”
Brooks told me he thinks people who identify as atheists are also likely to be more liberal and less conservative.
But he also said that he thinks there are some things that people can learn from people who say they are atheists.
“Some of those who say that they’re atheists are