Elephant in the pews: Is the GOP the party of Churches of Christ?

Elephant in the pews: Is the GOP the party of Churches of Christ?

National survey highlights political affiliations of major U.S. religious groups.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

Seventy percent of Mormons and 64 percent of Southern Baptists lean toward or identify with the Republican Party — but only 50 percent of members of Churches of Christ do, the Pew Research Center reported this week.

Those findings surprised Stephen Morris, a law and political studies professor at Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tenn.

“That’s not my experience in West Tennessee, and it’s not my experience with my students,” said Morris, who sponsors FHU’s College Republicans group.

Like Morris, Tim Archer, director of Spanish-speaking ministries for Texas-based Herald of Truth, said he expected a higher GOP percentage.

After all, a majority of the 1.5 million U.S. adherents of Churches of Christ reside in Republican-dominated states such as Texas, Tennessee, Alabama and Oklahoma.

But according to Pew, 39 percent of members of Churches of Christ identify as or lean Democratic. The remaining 11 percent indicate no political preference.

“I would have thought Churches of Christ would score more like the Baptist church,” said Archer, a member of the University Church of Christ in Abilene, Texas.

This story appears in the online edition of The Christian Chronicle.