Over at Gray, White, and Black, Jerry Park has posted an interesting piece based on Pew Research called Racial Religious Patterns in Political Ideology – Expanded Version. There are several interesting points in the post. Be sure to read it. But there is one chart in particular I wanted to lift up and I want to get your feedback on an interesting question. This is a chart showing the political party identification of non-Catholic Christians:
Being a PCUSA guy, you can guess where my eyes went first. The White Mainline group is the second most balanced group after the Asian American Mainline group (and it often surprises many people that Mainliners do tilt toward Republican.) But let's disaggregate the White Mainline group a little. Here is data taken from the 2011, Presbyterian Panel. of the Presbyterian Church, USA. The Panel is an going survey done by the denomination. Here is a breakdown of political identification within the denomination:
For members and ruling elder who identify with a party, the ratio is 3:2, Republicans over Democrats. The ratio for pastors is a 5:2 in favor of Democrats. The ratio is more than 5:1 for Democrats among specialized clergy. Part of what this says to me is that there are many pastors who find themselves with a substantial disconnect between themselves and their congregations, and vice versa.
I just completed eight years of service on the board of PCUSA's Presbyterian Mission Agency, which oversees the domestic and international work of the denomination between General Assemblies. I have had close involvement with staff and the countless boards and organizations that make up the denomination. (A rewarding experience, I might add.) I can affirm for you that the people who are in the PCUSA hierarchy are overwhelmingly in a continuum from moderate Democrats to flaming liberals. ;-)
As we look at the groups in the first chart, my perception is that the White Mainline group is unique in this dischotomy between members and leaders. There may be some differences between members and leaders in other groups but I wonder if there are any where the ratios are flipped.
So here is my question: Do you perceive that this difference between members and leaders is unique to White Mainline denominations? If so, why do you suppose the difference exists? (And just a caution. As we are dealing with politics AND religion, everyone play nice. ;-) )