The election of Barack Obama offers hope that religion will play a more constructive role in the public arena rather than the largely divisive role it has played in recent years. One sign of hope is that Obama was able to narrow the Democrats’ so-called God gap. Whereas George Bush enjoyed a 29-point advantage over John Kerry among voters who attend church more than once a week, Obama reduced the Republican advantage to 12 points, according to data released by Faith in Public Life. And while Kerry lost the vote of those who attend religious services on a monthly basis by two points, Obama won that group by two points.
Obama’s appeal to Catholic voters was also dramatic given the concerns expressed by American bishops about his stance on abortion. He received 55 percent of the Catholic vote, much of which reflected his overwhelming support among Hispanics.