How the Faithful Voted: 2012 Preliminary Analysis

In his re-election victory, Democrat Barack Obama narrowly defeated Republican Mitt Romney in the national popular vote (50% to 48%)1. Obama’s margin of victory was much smaller than in 2008 when he defeated John McCain by a 53% to 46% margin, and he lost ground among white evangelical Protestants and white Catholics. But the basic religious contours of the 2012 electorate resemble recent elections – traditionally Republican groups such as white evangelicals and weekly churchgoers strongly backed Romney, while traditionally Democratic groups such as black Protestants, Hispanic Catholics, Jews and the religiously unaffiliated backed Obama by large margins.

Vote Choice by Religion and Race

Religiously unaffiliated voters and Jewish voters were firmly in Obama’s corner in 2012 (70% and 69%, respectively). Compared with 2008, support for Obama ticked downward among both Jews and religiously unaffiliated voters in the exit polls, though these declines appear not to be statistically significant. Both of these groups have long been strongly supportive of Democratic candidates in presidential elections. Black Protestants also voted overwhelmingly for Obama (95%).

 

At the other end of the political spectrum, nearly eight-in-ten white evangelical Protestants voted for Romney (79%), compared with 20% who backed Obama. Romney received as much support from evangelical voters as George W. Bush did in 2004 (79%) and more support from evangelicals than McCain did in 2008 (73%). Mormon voters were also firmly in Romney’s corner; nearly eight-in-ten Mormons (78%) voted for Romney, while 21% voted for Obama. Romney received about the same amount of support from Mormons that Bush received in 2004. (Exit poll data on Mormons was unavailable for 2000 and 2008.)

Jews accounted for 2% of the 2012 electorate, and Muslims and members of other non-Christian faiths together accounted for 7% of the electorate. The religiously unaffiliated made up 12% of 2012 voters; the religiously unaffiliated share of the electorate is unchanged from 2008, even though the religiously unaffiliated share of the adult population has grown significantly over this period.

Restrictions on Religion Are Tightening, Study Finds

Government restrictions on religion around the world were highest in the Middle East and North Africa, particularly in the period before the Arab Spring uprisings, a new study has found, underscoring a factor that fueled hostilities in the region and led to the rise of political Islam after the revolts.

The study, by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life, said that in 2010 government restrictions on religion were “high or very high” in most of the Arab Spring countries, where suppression of Islamist movements contributed to the uprisings and spurred subsequent incursions of Islamists into political power.

Over all, the study found a worldwide rise in religious restrictions. It measured two basic yardsticks: a government restrictions index, and a social hostilities index. Government restrictions include moves by authorities to ban faiths and conversions, and to limit preaching. Social hostilities encompass mob violence and “religion-related intimidation or abuse,” such as harassment over attire.

The study found 15 countries with very high levels of social hostilities in 2010, up from 10 in 2007, with the new additions being Egypt, Nigeria, the Palestinian territories, Russia and Yemen. It noted that “in Nigeria, violence between Christian and Muslim communities, including a series of deadly attacks, escalated throughout the period.”

Separately on Thursday, United Nations human rights investigators in Geneva said that more than 300 Christians had been arrested since mid-2010 in Iran, where, they said, churches operate in a “climate of fear.” Iran is given a score of “very high” on Pew’s Government Restrictions Index.

The Pew study found that restrictions also increased in Europe, like the Swiss ban on construction of minarets, and in the United States, noting a rising number of instances in which people were prevented from wearing clothing or beards, and problems in building places of worship.

Hamburg State signs treaty with Muslim community

August 14

After three years of negotiations with Muslim associations, the State of Hamburg has agreed to implement and recognize religious-related holidays, including school holidays, religious education and burial rituals.

Unlike Christians churches, Muslim mosques and associations are not recognized as corporations by public law. However, the State of Hamburg has stated it will guarantee three official holidays: Eid ad-Adha, Ramadan and Ashura. Muslim teachers will be allowed to teach religious education, once they have passed the state exam and given that the course is cross-confessional. It is not clear whether women wearing a headscarf will be allowed to teach.

The involved parts, other than the State of Hamburg, are: the Turkish-Islamic Union Institute for Religion (Ditib), the Council of Islamic communities (Schura), the association for Islamic Culture centers (VIKZ) and as the Alawites community of Germany. The three associations represent approximately 130 000 Muslims in Hamburg.

Daniel Adin, a Schura representative, spoke about an important step towards the institutional recogntion of Islam in Germany. Murat Pirildar (VIKZ) said that the treaty would strengthen the participation of Muslims in German society. Aziz Alsandemir, representative of the Alawite community, emphasized that the rights, which would be granted to Alawaites in Hamburg are still denied to them in Turkey. Approximately, 50 000 Alawites live in Hamburg.

New Book: Religion in Public Spaces – A European Perspective

Religion in Public Spaces: A European Perspective

Ashgate, September 2012

Edited by Silvio Ferrari and Sabrina Pastorelli, both at The University of Milan, Italy Series : Cultural Diversity and Law in Association with RELIGARE

This timely volume discusses the much debated and controversial subject of the presence of religion in the public sphere. The book is divided in three sections. In the first the public/private distinction is studied mainly from a theoretical point of view, through the contributions of lawyers, philosophers and sociologists. In the following sections their proposals are tested through the analysis of two case studies, religious dress codes and places of worship. These sections include discussions on some of the most controversial recent cases from around Europe with contributions from some of the leading experts in the area of law and religion.

Covering a range of very different European countries including Turkey, the UK, Italy and Bulgaria, the book uses comparative case studies to illustrate how practice varies significantly even within Europe. It reveals how familiarization with religious and philosophical diversity in Europe should lead to the modification of legal frameworks historically designed to accommodate majority religions. This in turn should give rise to recognition of new groups and communities and eventually, a more adequate response to the plurality of religions and beliefs in European society.

Contents: Religion and rethinking the public-private divide:
introduction, Marie-Claire Foblets; Part I Religions and the Public/Private Divide: Public and private, a moving border: a legal-historical perspective, Kjell Å. Modeer; Socio-historical perspectives on the public and private spheres, Adam Seligmann; The ‘public-private’ divide on drift: what, if any, is its importance for analysing limits of associational religious freedoms?, Veit Bader; Religious freedom and the public-private divide: a broken promise in Europe?, Alessandro Ferrari; The ‘public’ and the ‘private’ in the common law and civil law traditions and the regulation of religion, Jean-François Gaudreault-DesBiens and Noura Karazivan; Contested normative cultures. Gendered perspectives on religions and the public/private divide, Hanne Petersen; Religion in the European public
spaces: a legal overview, Silvio Ferrari. Part II Religion and the Dress
Codes: From front-office to back-office: religious dress crossing the public-private divide in the workplace, Katayoun Alidadi; Religious dress codes: the Turkish case, A. Emre Öktem and Mehmet C. Uzun; Religious dress codes in the United Kingdom, Javier Garcia Oliva; Religious dress codes: the Italian case, Sabrina Pastorelli; Religious dress codes: the Bulgarian case, Maya Kosseva and Iva Kyurkchieva; Comparing burqa debates in Europe: sartorial styles, religious prescriptions and political ideologies, Sara Silvestri. Part III Religion and the Places of Worship: The right to establish and maintain places of worship: the developments of its normative content under international human rights law, Noel G. Villaroman; The places of worship in France and the public/private divide, Anne Fornerod; ‘Stopp Minarett’? The controversy over the building of minarets in Switzerland:
religious freedom versus collective identity, Vincenzo Pacillo; Places of worship: between public and private: a comparison between Bulgaria, Italy and the Netherlands, Tymen J. van der Ploeg; Index.

About the Editor: Silvio Ferrari is Professor of Canon Law, University of Milan and President, International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies, Italy. His research interests are in the areas of Church and State in Europe; Comparative law of religions, and Vatican-Israel relations. He has published widely on these and related areas.

Sabrina Pastorelli is research fellow at the Institute of International Law – section of Ecclesiastical and Canon Law – University of Milan, Faculty of Law. She is also a member of the Groupe Sociétés, Religions, Laïcités (GSRL-CNRS/École Pratique des Hautes Études-Sorbonne) and teaching assistant at the Catholic University of Paris – Faculty of Social and Economic Sciences. Her research interests include sociology of religion; new religious movements; law and religion in Europe; religious education; regulation of religious pluralism; state public policy and religion. She is a member of the International Society for the Sociology of Religion (ISSR); the Association for Sociology of Religion (ASR); the Italian Sociological Association (AIS).

Reviews: ‘This book offers more than its title promises. It is not only about Europe or about religion. Insightful, suggestive and as diverse as its contributors, it contains a persuasive reflection on the need to rethink the very notion of public space that Western democracies have used since the nineteenth century.’
Javier Martinez-Torron, Complutense University School of Law, Spain

‘This is a highly important book in a remarkable controversy. Silvio Ferrari and Sabrina Pastorelli present a rich volume full of information, thought, and insight – presenting masterpieces of interdisciplinary research and political guidance. The book is a most valuable contribution to freedom and equality throughout Europe.’
Gerhard Robbers, University of Trier, Germany

New Report: Danish Regulation of Religion, State of Affairs and Qualitative Reflections

From the Centre for European Islamic Thought, this report is part of the socio-legal research done in the European research project, RELIGARE. The report is based on qualitative interviews among Danish key profiles, religious and secular, and will feed into both Danish debate and into the ongoing work in RELIGARE.

In addition to supplying data from the interviews, the report works well as an introduction to Danish regulation of religion and as a discussion of current affairs.

———————-

1. State, Church and Religion in Denmark
1.1 Introduction to the socio-legal frame
Presenting a status of Danish legislation and the regulation of religion is by
nature a complex task that includes capturing political discourse, reflecting
theological discussions on especially the Folkekirke,1 and formulating a
careful analysis of administrative and legal practice. It would have been a
straightforward task if relations between the Danish State, the Church and
Religion had conformed to the rudimentary models suggested by Silvio
Ferrari (Ferrari & Bradney 2000) or by Roland Minnerath (2001).
However, the Danish regulative model of these matters differs in several
specific ways. Regarding its history and its legal state of affairs, Danish
regulation of religion cannot be said to conform to a single model based on
a civil judicial structure that would allow the churches to act independently,
as is the case in Germany, nor can it be claimed that Denmark has a
concordat or bilateral agreement between state, church and religion as in
the case of many countries with majority Catholic churches. Nor is
Denmark a secular country with a clear separation of religious communities
from the state, as is to some extent the case in France and even more so in
the United States (Christoffersen 2010B).
Rather, Denmark has a history of regulating religion that on the one hand
represents a particular understanding of Lutheranism in a majority context
after the European wars of religion (1524-1648, cujus regio, ejus religio),
and on the other hand presents some tense and difficult compromises in
Danish realpolitik. Since the introduction of the democratic constitution of
1849, Danish regulation of religion has firmly established the Evangelical
Lutheran Church as one of the four pillars of Danish society (§4 of the
constitution, Christoffersen 2010A) coupled with a dual constitutional
promise of autonomy and establishment. On the one hand, a law was
envisaged that would establish the Folkekirke as a self-determining and
autonomous institution independent of, but supported by, the state (§66 and
§4), and on the other hand, a law was to be framed to regulate on equal
terms the status of other religious communities with an expectation of
similar freedoms and responsibilities granted to the Folkekirke (§69).
However, no such laws were ever passed and instead of becoming a
societal institution supported by the state, the Folkekirke still resembles
more a state church than anything imagined by Martin Luther (Andersen
2010, 393). Furthermore, the constitution applied a legal framework for
1 It is common at this stage of a study to discuss how to translate the name of the
majority Evangelical Lutheran church in Denmark, which literally means the national
church or the people’s church (see Christoffersen 2010A). We have chosen to use the
Danish name Folkekirke.
10 Structural and Methodological Reflections
explicit recognition by royal decree of the few religious communities that
were already a reality in 1849. Among these is the Jewish community
(Danish: Mosaisk Trossamfund), which was recognised already in 1685.
This system of administrative recognition was extended after the
introduction of the constitution to include a list of Christian churches, such
as the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Russian church in
Copenhagen, the Norwegian, the Swedish and the English (Anglican)
Churches, the reformed churches, the Baptists, and the Methodists. The
system of recognition was changed just after the Second World War so that
religious communities such as Muslims and Buddhists who arrived after
1960 have only been ‘approved’ by the Minister of Church Affairs. They
are thus relegated to the administrative competences of the ministers and
permanent secretaries of changing ministerial departments and offices
(Christoffersen 2012).
During the 19th and 20th century several attempts were made to re-ignite
both the political and public debates and to re-open the legislative agendas
promised in the 1849 constitution. Three short-lived crises and subsequent
changes managed to put religion on the political agenda, only for it to be
neglected in the dawning reality of the succeeding governments. The first
change came in 1849, when three commissions were set up to clarify and
begin the promised legislative processes. The first two commissions of
1853 and 1868 were marooned in internal disagreement amongst the
different wings of the Folkekirke, while the Church Council of 1883 that
was set up to finally produce a workable political, ecclesiastical, and legal
compromise was disbanded in 1901. By this time the entire political
structure had been reformed with the introduction of the parliamentary
system, the end of any effective political power of the king, and the
formation of governments based on the mandate of the popular vote.
The second change came with the politico-economic arrangement of
1933 that aimed, firstly, to end a general conflict on the reduction of wages
between unions and employers; secondly, to avoid a threatening crisis for
Danish agricultural exports; and thirdly to open up for social reforms that
would build the foundation of the modern welfare state. Although religion
and church affairs had resurfaced in the Church Council that was active
from 1928 to 1939, the religio-political agenda gave way to the social
reformist agenda of the Social Democrat party, which in turn backed away
from a traditional leftist opposition to established religion. This reframed
and re-systematised the entire social welfare system and made it primarily
an issue of state rather than of other actors, including the churches. In
research on the subject (Østergaard 2005, Hansen, Petersen & Petersen
2010 and others) there is widespread disagreement as to whether the
Danish welfare state is built on Lutheran ethics – in their adaptation
following N.F.S. Grundtvig (1783–1872), who stressed individual
Structural and Methodological Reflections 11
engagement and voluntarism – or it is the product of a social democratic
agenda that succeeded to the extent of its own obsoleteness – or it is a
combination of both normative and ideological sources. Whatever the case,
the very nature of the crisis of the 1920s and 1930s paved the way for the
social and economic empowerment instituted in the settlement of 1933.
Danish welfare became a matter for the state, and religious issues
disappeared once again from the political agenda.
A third attempt was made by a commission (strukturkommissionen) set
up in 1964 to establish the nature of the relationship between the state, the
people, and the Folkekirke. The Social Democrat Minister of Church
Affairs, Bodil Koch (1903-72), wanted to know how best to establish
church and religion as the ‘marrow and muscle of the people’.
Unfortunately, the work of the commission ceased with a change of
government and the death of the minister. The result was the reaffirmation
of Danish church law by permanent secretary August Roesen (1909-87) on
the argument that the Folkekirke had become a part of public
administration and in effect had no independent governance. All matters
pertaining to the Folkekirke would be regulated by Parliament and the
Minister of Church Affairs, while the 10 bishops would remain ‘inspectors’
of the Folkekirke and consultants to the Ministry (Roesen 1976; Huulgaard
2004, 29).
The two promised sets of legal norms that would ideally give autonomy
to the Folkekirke and equality of religion at least among other religious
communities (ideally speaking also in relation to the Folkekirke) never
came into being. The political and public debates always ended without
substantial change, the legislative agenda was never revived, and the
administrative handling of religious issues remained the law of the land.
Over time, the best of worlds envisioned by the constitution made way for
the dual reality of regulating religion in Denmark. Firstly, the sociological
reality that the actual number of “other religions” was insignificant, and
secondly, the closely related political reality that there were no problems to
mention, no dissidents, no media attention, and most importantly, no votes
to be gathered in a political engagement with religion, on the contrary.
From the time of the 1849 constitution until very recently, religion
functioned as a modus vivendi that declared Denmark to be Christian by
history and culture on the one hand, and secular in all legal, public, and
administrative matters on the other. This has now been not only challenged,
but is perhaps also being found to be a myth.
This presentation of the state of affairs of Danish regulation of religion
proposes in the following (1.2) a short introduction to the legal and
normative realities of contemporary Denmark, and continues with (1.3) a
brief description of the basic sociological realities. Under (1.4) the more
recent frame from 2001 to 2011 – from 11 September 2001 to the Arab
12 Structural and Methodological Reflections
spring – is presented as the actual frame of the RELIGARE survey. Lastly,
(1.5) there are a few comments on the change of government of October
2011 and how this seems to open up for new waves of discussion on the
roles of religion and secularity in Danish society and also more concretely
on the promises from the constitution.

Little Voter Discomfort with Romney’s Mormon Religion and Only About Half Identify Obama as Christian

Most voters continue to say it is important for a president to have strong religious beliefs. But voters have limited awareness of the religious faiths of both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. And there is little evidence to suggest that concerns about the candidates’ respective faiths will have a meaningful impact in the fall elections.

The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life and the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted June 28-July 9, 2012, among 2,973 adults, including 2,373 registered voters, finds that 60% of voters are aware that Romney is Mormon, virtually unchanged from four months ago, during the GOP primaries.

The vast majority of those who are aware of Romney’s faith say it doesn’t concern them. Fully eight-in-ten voters who know Romney is Mormon say they are either comfortable with his faith (60%) or that it doesn’t matter to them (21%).

The new survey on religion and politics finds that nearly four years into his presidency the view that Barack Obama is Muslim persists. Currently, 17% of registered voters say that Obama is Muslim; 49% say he is Christian, while 31% say they do not know Obama’s religion.

New book: Building a Shared Future: Religion, Politics and the Public Sphere

During the last decade, debates on the role of religion in the public space, migration, social cohesion and other issues have revealed increasing social tensions and polarisation in public opinion. Misperceptions and misinformation often dominate public dialogue about relations between Muslims and others. Although they don’t speak with the loudest voice, academics, scholars and thought leaders have a key role to play in helping to rebalance these debates by providing fact-based opinion and informed arguments. In the ‘Building a Shared Future’ series, these opinion leaders offer insights into the issues facing Muslims through American and European communities today.

How successful have European models of integration been compared with the American model of multiculturalism? How can multiple layers of identity be accommodated in pluralistic societies? This volume explores a selection of these questions.

The book is available for download here.

German TV documentary “Allah in Ehrenfeld“

July 12

 

This 90 minute documentary shows moods and positions relatively to the construction of Germany’s biggest mosque in the city district of Collogne-Ehrenfeld. Since 2007 the construction of the mosque has been a bone of contention between the project supporters and local inhabitants, who openly oppose the construction. The documentary focuses on polarized attitudes and statements for and against the project, contributing interviews with local politicians, citizen initiatives and the Turkish-Islamic Union Institute for Religion (Ditib). Ditib had actually initiated the mosque construction but withdrew its order in 2011, after popular initiatives and the City Council raised “technical” demands for a transparent untraditional architecture and a lower height of the mosque’s minaret.

Strike against Salafi association in Solingen

June 14

 

On Thursday morning, German authorities have searched more than 70 offices, apartments and facilities related to the Salafi scene. Searches went on in at least seven German Federal States, in particular in North Rhine Westphalia and Hessen. Hereby, the Minister of Internal Affairs Hans-Peter Friedrich (CSU) has issued a banning order for the Solingen-based Salafi association “Millatu Ibrahim”. Authorities had been monitoring the Salafi group since the May violent clashes in Bonn and Solingen. Among other measures, the police have shut down the group’s webpage. This, according to the Minister of Interior, means an immense logistic and organizational loss for the “Millatu”group. Allegedly, the group’s goals are: to call Muslims to fight against the constitutional order of Germany, to destroy the concept of understanding among peoples and to introduce Sharia by violent means.

 

The “Millatu Ibrahim” group belongs to the Jihadist arm of the Salafi movement in Germany. It has been extremely radical in its calls for violence and bloodshed. The group’s leading figure is the Austrian Mohamed Mahmoud also known as Abu Usama al-Gharib. In 2011, he was convicted for hate speech and Terrorist activities by a German court. Also, he had been a founding member of the Global Islamic Media front. After his release, he had moved to Berlin and afterwards to Solingen. He begun preaching at the Millatu-Ibrahim-Mosque but German authorities intervened to stop this activity. He then moved to the German State of Hessen and was finally deported from Germany. Abu Usama al-Gharib is now said to live in Egypt. His accomplice, and a popular figure in the Millatu group is the former rapper Denis Cuspert alias Deso Dogg, alias Abu Talha Al-Almani. Apparently, Cuspert has unsubscribed his Berlin apartment and is now wanted. The Ministry of Interior uses videos as evidence to prove how both leaders encouraged Salafi adherents to oppose police and right-wing supporters on May 1st and May 12th demonstrations by calling to bloodshed.

 

Authorities have initiated preliminary investigations also against the association “DawaFFM” in Frankfurt-am-Main and the Cologne-based association “The True Religion”. Given the lack of evidence against the groups, the Ministry has not yet issued banning orders. Earlier this spring the association “The True Religion” had initiated a campaign distributing copies of the Koran in German cities. The group interrupted the campaign after printing 300.000 copies, as the print shop had started attracting the public attention.

 

Other well-known activists have openly sympathized with the Jihadist arm of the Salafi movement and are therefore believed to be involved in its activities. Among them, there is the German Pierre Vogel, who converted to Islam eleven years ago. Another is the preacher and leading member of the association “The True Religion” Ibrahim Abou Nagie. Abou Nagie allegedly encourages young Muslims to stand against all Non-Muslims. He organizes Islamic seminars at schools and youth centers, and calls to execute the Islamic law Sharia on homosexual people.

Initially Nagie’s Koran distribution initiative sounded harmless. However, the German security forces became alert as soon as the radical leader Usama al-Gharib expressed his approval of the idea and offered to stand against possible attackers.

 

Security experts assume that the goal of Abou Nagie and Al-Gharib is to unify the Salafi scene and win more adherents in the form of converts. The Koran distributions and the demonstrations against the right-wing-initiated Muhammad cartoon campaigns are perceived as prestigious victories within the Salafi scene. All three associations are expected to be leading and coordinating Internet and street campaigns in Germany.

 

According to the Office for the Protection of the Constitution there are more than 4000 Salafists in Germany, divided in two groups: a so-called political “missionary” arm and a “Jihadist” arm. Totally, 24 Salafi members are classified as “dangerous”. Although the Office for the Protection of the Constitution had issued warnings about Salafi activities and propaganda in Germany, authorities seemed to be little prepared for the outbreak of violence in May 2012. Salafi adherents had protested against demonstrations organized by the right-wing party Pro NRW, which had initiated a Muhammad cartoon campaign. Almost thirty police officers were injured during the clashes.