Steven Waldman

Steven Waldman

Literal Word of God vs. Divinely Inspired: The Bible and the Election Results

Many religious conservatives simply don’t believe that religious liberals are genuinely, well, religious.
The new Beliefnet election survey shows two things: that the religious Obama supporters are just as pious in several key ways. 81% pray DAILY, not exactly the behavior of closet secular humanists. Only 16% percent of them believe the Bible is merely the concoction of men.
But there is a major difference. Religious Obama voters have an entirely different relationship with the Bible. 57.7% of McCain religious voters (those who attend church weekly or more) say God is “the literal word of God” while 41% believe that the Bible is “divinely inspired but not everything in it is the literal word of God.”
For Obama’s religious voters the pattern is reversed. Just 17.3% percent say it’s the literal word of God, while 66.4% believe it’s divinely inspired.
From this key theological difference flows a dramatically different political worldview. For instance, religious liberals who look at the zeitgeist of the Bible – the core messages – believe that many particular injunctions were NOT decreed directly by God and therefore need not necessarily be followed. Therefore, they’re not persuaded by the idea that homosexuality is an abomination because the Bible says so. Conservatives, on the other hand, view this as a scriptural no-brainer: it’s in black and white. If you take the good books seriously, and literally, the message is clear.
Both sides find it inexplicable that the other can use their religion to justify their positions on gay marriage. But understand the differences in how they approach the bible, and the political differences make sense.

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posted November 10, 2008 at 10:36 am

“God is “the literal word of God” while 41% believe that the Bible is “divinely inspired but not everything in it is the literal word of God.”
I’m wondering if we should take Valerie Jarrett’s words literally?
–From an interview on Meet the Press on November 9, 2008. Valerie Jarrett, Co-Chair of the Obama transition team states:
“Important for President-elect Obama to ‘TAKE POWER AND BEGIN TO RULE’ on day one.”
Did she forget she was in America (where our leaders govern as a civic service NOT rule) because she was born and raised in Iran?

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posted November 10, 2008 at 1:56 pm

There is conflicting information in the Bible. I have heard conservatives with different interpretations of the Bible.
For some people the passages of the Bible used by conservatives to condemn homosexuality were not interpreted according to the culture when the Bible was written. I do not have links with me now, but can provide some later.
Jesus never mentioned homosexuality.
There is too much scientific evidence that for most being homosexual is not a choice. Why would God allow homosexuals to be born with differently wired brains or with characteristics of the opposite sex. There are few in the medical profession that would argue homosexuality is a choice.
Why would God allow people to be born with male and female sexual organs?
The Jesus I know loved all of his children equally. The Jesus I know would consider the current discrimination towards God’s homosexual children to be a sin.
Just like it would be a sin to discriminate against a person born with no arms, schizophrenia, or mentally challenged. It was only recently that schizophrenia was recognized as a condition of birth.
I find the issue to be very sad. Many people have worked very hard at not letting anyone know they are homosexual because they would not be accepted, especially by the conservative Christians.
In a few generations, homosexuals will finally gain the acceptance they deserve. The younger generation are much more accepting of differences in people.

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Your Name

posted November 11, 2008 at 8:53 am

1 Corinthians 6 (New International Version)
9 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

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Joshua Tilghman

posted January 19, 2013 at 9:04 am

Interesting study. I think this is proof that we are finally advancing spiritually as a nation. Believing that the Bible is 100% the literal word of God separates us because everyone is going to interpret their literal version differently. Besides, the Bible has been used as a manipulative tool for too long. It’s time to mature.

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