In 2007, the Pew Research Center released the results of a survey about “Trends in Political Values and Core Attitudes.” It’s a topic they regularly research.
There are encouraging findings, like:
About eight- in-ten Americans say they have no doubt that God exists, that prayer is an important part of their lives, and that “we will all be called before God at the Judgment Day to answer for our sins.”
And I’m encouraged by the growing realization in this country that war does not create peace:
In the summer of 2002, less than a year after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, 62% agreed with this statement: “The best way to ensure peace is through military strength.” But a year later, that number had fallen by nine points, to 53%. In the current survey, 49% say they think that maintaining military strength is the best way to ensure peace – the lowest percentage in the 20- year history of Pew values surveys.
Vengeance is also becoming less popular:
In 2002, with memories of 9/11 still fresh, 61% of Americans agreed with the statement: “It is my belief that we should get even with any country that tries to take advantage of the United States.” That marked a 19-point increase from 1999, and was the highest percentage agreeing with this sentiment in the 20-year history of the values survey.
But this proved to be a temporary rise in the public’s desire to “get even” with countries that have taken advantage of the U.S. Just a year later, 48% supported the idea of getting revenge against adversaries, and in the current survey it has declined to 40% – the lowest number in favor of getting even against other countries in 20 years.
Here’s the one that really worries me:
Overall, 50% agree with the statement: “We should all be willing to fight for our country, whether it is right or wrong”; 45% disagree with this statement. In values surveys since 1994, roughly half of the public has expressed agreement that one has an obligation to fight for his or her country whether it is right or wrong.
Republicans and Democrats differ in their views about whether a person has an obligation to fight for the U.S., even when it is wrong: Most Republicans (63%) believe people have such an obligation while most Democrats (52%) disagree. Independents are fairly evenly divided, with half agreeing that people have a duty to fight for the U.S. whether it is right or wrong.
If I could somehow believe that these were non-Christians holding that attitude, I could feel more at ease. But these values held true in large numbers with whites (53%); the white Republican base at that time was strongly Evangelical. Despite that fact, country took precedence over justice. You fight for your country, right or wrong.
Or am I reading that wrong? I haven’t yet found the complete data that might have that info broken down according to religious views. But don’t you agree that, if that really does reflect the outlook of many churchgoers across the country, we have a serious problem in our pews?
Survey results can be found here
Addendum: Found the 2012 results on the same issue:
About half of the public (51%) says that “we all should be willing to fight for our country, whether it is right or wrong,” 43% disagree. Opinions on this measure have fluctuated only modestly over the past 25 years. In the first political values survey in 1987, 54% said people should be willing to fight for this country, right or wrong, while 40% disagreed.
Republicans (58%) are more likely than Democrats or independents (49% each) to say that everyone should be willing to fight for the U.S., regardless of the circumstances. Among Democrats, a majority of conservatives and moderates (55%) say everyone should be willing to fight for this country, right or wrong. A majority of liberal Democrats disagree (56%).