Religion, Voting and the Federal Employee

Results of a recent survey on the subject of voting and religion

How much impact does your religion (or lack of it) have on the way that you vote?

A recent poll publicized in USA Today found that: “The religion gap is the leading edge of the “culture war” that has polarized American politics, reshaped the coalitions that make up the Democratic and Republican parties and influenced the appeals their presidential candidates are making.”

In the poll, 38% of readers responding say that their religion does not impact their vote. 34% say that it is a major factor in voting and 28% indicate that religion is a factor in their voting but not a major one.

In response to the question of “How often do you attend religious services”, 53% indicated they attend weekly. 4% responded that they attend services monthly. 27% go to religious services occasionally and 16% never go.

And on an issue that may interest some in political life, 43% indicate they believe faith-based programs should be able to receive government funding. 42% disagree with this concept and 15% of those responding are not sure if faith-based programs should be eligible for government funding.

In response to the question “How do you rank your normal voting or political preferences?”, 40% of readers said they are conservative. 21% said they are liberal and 39% described themselves as moderate.

This may surprise some readers who have seen poll results of federal employees here and elsewhere in recent years. In most of those polls, the results are consistent in showing a preference for a view or politician that generally falls into what is generally thought of as a a liberal rather than conservative. We cannot be sure why this discrepancy exists. It may be that some readers view themselves as moderate on issues whereas the general population of Americans would view a similar position as being more liberal. On the other hand, we have noticed that on some social issues, federal employees may be conservative but often vote for more liberal political candidates.

Some of the responses we received point toward this conclusion. The reason for the divergence is rational: liberal politicians often favor more government spending, greater pay and benefits for government employees, or less contracting out of government services than conservative candidates. Since these issues directly impact the economic interest of government employees, it would not be surprising to find them voting primarily based on these issues.

Here are some of the responses we received from readers on this issue.

A secretary with the Social Security Administration in Baltimore has strong feelings about this issue: “I will vote for any candidate who is grounded in God’s Word, Pro-Life and believes Prayer, One Nation Under God, In God We Trust and the Ten Commandments are a very important part of our Country!”

An occupational health specialist with the Dept. of Interior in Denver has a similar view: “How can a nation founded by ancestors seeking religious freedom have come to a point where it would question the fundamental place for belief in government? One Nation Under God and In God We Trust are the pillars of America regardless of what name your God goes by.”

A contract surveillance representative from the Marine Corps in Beaufort, SC views the issue in this way: “With moral convictions one stands for something; without it, one will fall for anything.”

An executive secretary with the Army in Bel Air, MD writes: “Religion plays a very important part of my voting practice. For instance, I firmly am against abortion, and a politician who has a history of supporting that type of federally-funded and emotionally supported program absolutely would not get my vote.”

An airport screener with TSA in Georgia says: “Working for my Uncle Sam doesn’t mean I forsake my Heavenly Father!”

A labor relations specialist with DHS in Texas takes this approach: “A person’s faith perspective is an integral part of their world view and value system. It is absurd to think, and ridiculous to assert, that religion does not affect a person’s perspective in political preferences; of course it does. It would be untruthful, or ignorant, to state otherwise.”

And a health education specialist with the CDC in Georgia opines: “Religion is an integral part of our heritage and our Constitution and our Bill of Rights guarantees that freedom. “In God We Trust!” ”

A human resources specialist with the IRS in Washington offered a unique perspective: “I never attend church nor am I affiliated with any religious group. However, I am more and more concerned that Christian values are under attack while other religions seem to be free to espouse their beliefs and mores. I believe in religious freedom for all – including Christians. As Christian values come under attack more and more, I believe religious issues will affect my vote.”

On the other side of the issue, here are some of our readers’ comments.

A human resources specialist with OPM in Washington says: “The U.S. has a constitutional separation of church and state. As history has amply demonstrated, religion and government make for a lethal mix. Freedom FROM religion is as important as freedom of religion.”

Another CDC employee from Georgia offered a much different view than his colleague cited earlier in this article: “Religion should have NO role in government at any level. Religion and government are inherently problematic; there is no need to contribute any further to these problems by adding either to the other. There are too many examples of the tragic results that occur when religion and government combine into a single entity.”

A completely anonymous reader wrote: “”Faith-based” initiatives fly in the face of the Constitutional separation of church and state and are 100% inproper uses of public monies. The problem is one of definition. Those who propound such programs illogically assume that their “faith” is the correct one and will receive funding; however, “one citizen’s church is another man’s cult.” ”

An employee with the VA in the Bronx, NY writes: “At my congregation religion does play a major factor in voting because we are encouraged to vote. However, it doesn’t determine who we vote for.”

A manager with the Defense Finance and Accounting Service in Arlington, VA says: “There is a strong tendency in this country now to relate morality to religion. They are not the same thing. I’ve know (sic) very religious people with no moral scruples at all and I’ve also known very moral people who are not religious at all.”

An employee of the EPA has this to say: “Religion has no place in politics. These two very diverse areas should never be seen as connected. Wasn’t there supposed to be a ‘separation between Church and State’? ”

An employee of the VA in West Palm Beach, FL offers this opinion: “I do not believe religion should have anything to do with politics. In my faith, it is not allowed to receive any contribution from any federal, state or city agency and is solely supported by our members.”

And a supervisor with the USDA in Washington, DC writes: “Separation of church and State – – how often we forget – – people are so proud of this country – the democracy – and yet, they try to tie religion to their party – – or a bill they want passed – – it wasn’t too long ago – that the original European settlers fled their country due to a lack of freedom – – now there are some who would like to take our freedoms away from us, under the guise of ‘religion.’ ”

Our thanks to all readers who took the time to vote in this recent poll and send in their opinion. All readers are welcome to post their own opinion on this issue in the space below this article.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47