Nick Stuart in Conversation with Political Scientist John Green

Nick Stuart sits down to discuss the relationship between religion and politics in America with political scientist John Green. Watch the second part of the interview here. For a transcript of the entire interview, please see below:

Nick Stuart:    How would you describe the uniqueness of the relationship between religion and politics in America and the American election?

John Green:     Well, of all the advanced industrial societies in the world the United States is the one where there is the most involvement of religion in political campaigns and politics generally. And that reflects the unique...from the very beginning of European settlement in what later became the United States. There was a lot of religious...many people came to the United-, what was going to become the United States, precisely because they wanted to practice their faith in their own way. And almost always that had political overtones. But then in the United States we take all of that religious diversity and we try to squeeze it through two political parties. We actually have more than two political parties; there’s only two that ever mattered in terms of electing a president or the national legislation. So that interplay of great religious diversity and a really pretty simple party system, two party system, helped explain why religion plays this very important role.

It’s also the case that the American Constitution sets up an interesting and ambivalent relationship between religion and politics; between religion and the state. One the one hand, an official state religion, an established religion is prohibited, but on the other hand the free exercise of religion is guaranteed. What this means that religion is largely a private activity, but one that can have an enormous influence on public policy, on elections and how the government actually operates.

Nick Stuart:    How would you describe that relationship in terms of it being a fault line, a pressure point, a problem area?

John Green:     Well, it is a very powerful fault line in American politics, and it has been that way since the beginning of the Republic; religion has played different roles at slightly different times, but it’s always been an important fault line. It is in some ways very problematic, because it is pitting different religious communities, different ethnic communities, against each other because they have different fundamental values in many cases. On the other hand it is part of the strength of the American system, because there is the capacity for these different religious and ethnic communities to work together to bring the best of their values for some kind of common purpose. So, like many things about the United States, it’s a study in contrasts. It’s a-, and there’s a great deal of ambivalence in Americans towards the role of religion in politics.

Nick Stuart:    Now, in the United Kingdom, the idea of having a law maker do God talk is almost like writing a suicide note to the election. In America, it’s more like a love letter. They seem to have to do it. How do you observe that difference?

John Green:     Well, one of the interesting things about American politics is that our political leaders routinely talk about their faith. And that’s partly because America as a whole is a very religious place. But on the other hand it’s a very diverse place in religious terms, so what this means is our political leaders talk a lot about their faith, but they tend to talk about it in very general ways rather than very specific ways. And in that regard the United States is very different from the United Kingdom; it’s very different from many other European countries. And even from one of our closest neighbors, Canada, where public discourse about faith is not as common as it is in the United States. And the United States is really the outlier in that regard, because it’s not just that our politicians need to talk about their faith because of the political circumstances, but many of them enjoy talking about their faith. And there’s been a lot of emphasis on more conservative politicians, but frankly, many of our modern and liberal politicians also like to talk about their faith. President Obama being a good example of that. Because they regard it as something that people want to hear about. And in many cases they believe that it’s an important subject f conversation. And in that regard the United States’ politics is really quite different than the rest of the world.

Nick Stuart:    Let’s go to the other side of the equation, away from politicians to the faith traditions themselves. In America, what struck me is that they are much more politicized than for instance, in the United Kingdom.

John Green:     I think that is true. I think the religious traditions in the United States have and still are highly politicized. Part of that is because of just the enormous diversity of the American religious landscape, and groups are constantly tripping over each other and running into each other when matters of public policy come up. In its origins, the largest group in the United States were Protestants, but they didn’t necessarily get along with each other very well, and they don’t necessarily always get along even today; there’s great diversity even within Protestants. And a large Roman Catholic community; the Roman Catholic Church is the single largest denomination in the United States. A vibrant Jewish community, growing Muslims, and then some unique American religious traditions, such as the Latter-day Saints and the Seventh Day Adventist groups that actually developed here.

But to be fair, there’s also a growing and very important non-religious group in the United States, that in its own respects is just as diverse as the religious communities; ranging all the way from atheists to people who are just rather indifferent to religion, to people who regard themselves as quite religious, they’re just not involved in organized religion, you know, very much on purpose.

Nick Stuart:    You talked about the size of some of these religious denominations, traditions. Do you think the idea of the religious block vote that figures leaders like Jim Wallace or Archbishop Dolan, can deliver their legions is actually a myth?

John Green:     It by and largely is a myth about delivering blocks of voters. One of the elections that a lot of people know about where religion figured very prominently was the 1960 presidential election where John F. Kennedy was elected president, the first and only Roman Catholic who’s ever been elected president. And of course there was a lot of talk about the Catholic block vote. There really wasn’t a Catholic block vote. Now many Roman Catholics voted for John F. Kennedy, and perhaps they had a similar faith, but it wasn’t because the bishops and other Catholic leaders told them to do that. And even today when we think about the Evangelical vote or we think about the Mormon vote or we think about the Jewish vote, it’s really not commanded by religious leaders; it’s persuaded through the democratic process. And with all of the religious communities in the United States there’s actually a lot of political diversity.

So for instance, Evangelical Protestants – a very strong Republican constituency – only vote about three quarters Republican, which is to say that about one quarter vote Democratic. And other groups are even more diverse than that. So religion and religious affiliation is a lens through which people see politics. But it’s not a set of commands that line them up with one party or the other.

Nick Stuart:    Looking at 2012, the election now, which group do you find personally the most fascinating in this particular election?

John Green:     That’s a really interesting question. I think that if one thinks about swing voters – voters that might vote Republican or might vote Democratic – one of the most fascinating religious groups in the United States are Roman Catholics, particularly what we call White Roman Catholics, that is Roman Catholics of European ancestry. Because while there are of course some Republican Catholics and some Democratic Catholics, there are a lot of Catholics that are very much in the middle. There are things about President Obama that they really like and admire, [0:08:53]but then things about him that they don’t like. And they feel the same-, have the same kind of ambivalence towards the Republican Party. And in a number of the key battleground states like Ohio and Florida and Pennsylvania, the Roman Catholic vote may be critical for who carries those states in the election. So if we’re looking at swing voters I think Roman Catholics are really very interesting.

But of course there are religious constituencies that are less evenly divided. And one interesting question in terms of the election is about White Evangelical Protestants – how enthusiastic will they be in this election? Particularly if a Mormon is the Republican Party’s nominee. Evangelicals and Mormons have some theological differences. It would just be very interesting to see how that particular group votes. We suspect it will be more Republican than Democratic, but how much Republican, what will the turnout be? Really good question. There’s a similar question in the Democratic coalition, which has to do with members of the historic Black Protestant churches. Now President Obama, the first African-America president, did awfully well with African-American Protestants in 2008, but we’ve had a weak economy, there’s been some disappointment – as there always is with an incumbent president. There too, what will the enthusiasm be? Will there be high turnout? So there’s a lot of interesting questions about religious groups in the 2012 election.

Nick Stuart:    But what about issues that a religious group might engender, not weighted by their numbers of voters, but by the impact of what they represent. I’m thinking specifically of the Muslim issue and the Muslim community in America.

John Green:     Well, the Muslim community in America is relatively small, but rapidly growing, and is located in large numbers in-, or relatively large numbers in a number of key states that will be very, very competitive. Muslims of course have their own set of interests, but to many Americans who are Christians or Jews or have other faiths, how the United States treats Muslims is a test of American pluralism [0:11:02]. This is a country that’s absorbed lots of diversity over time; not always pleasantly, not always easily, but this is in some sense the latest of those challenges. So the question of the Muslim vote and of the Muslim community and of the values of Muslims is important to many Americans who don’t share the religious perspectives of Islam.

Nick Stuart:    When I covered the 2008 election, I spoke to a young Muslim girl who was really enthusiastic Obama supporter; it was her first vote, Democrat. And she was seen and photographed behind Obama in her hijab with a Democratic and Obama placard. When the final picture came out, she had been airbrushed out. Now, do you see something like that happening again, or have things changed towards Islam from the main parties?

John Green:     I think we could very well see politicians avoiding too much of a direct contact with representatives of the Muslim community. Because there is a perception, I think, in both parties that with some voters Islam, a connection with Islam is problematic. I’m not sure that things have improved that much since 2008. Many Americans still see Islam through the eyes of terrorism and 9/11, rather than other ways that one could look at this very diverse and growing community. No politician, not Governor Romney, not President Obama, will want to be seen as being intolerant towards Islam. But they may not want to be too closely associated with the community, because frankly there are a lot of Americans that don’t have positive views of Muslims.

Nick Stuart:    Your book, The Diminishing Divide illustrates the historical relationship between religion and politics and explores the way in which religion will continue to alter that political landscape in the century stretching before us. But what role do you see religion play in politics in the 21st century? And has anything in the way religion and politics evolved interests you since you wrote the book in 2000 and perhaps surprises you?

John Green:     Well, the... There are two aspects to American religion that are quite important politically. One of them is religious affiliation – what groups people belong to. But then there’s religiosity, that is the extent that people practice their faith, whatever that faith may be. And what we’ve seen over the last 30 years is that religiosity has become relatively more important in terms of the vote and religious affiliation has become relatively less important. Now both things matter, but there has been a shift. And I’ve been a little surprised that that shift has continued. My colleagues and I, when we wrote the Diminishing Divide, thought that perhaps the trend had run its course, that religiosity wouldn’t be as important, that religious affiliation would once again... politics would shift back towards religious affiliation. And we thought that would happen for two reasons. One was because of the growing diversity of the American religious landscape. Now America has always been diverse religiously, but new kinds of diversity are becoming quite important. And one thing we know about diversity is that it does cause affiliation to be more important politically as different groups react to each other. But religiosity has continued to become important, and even become more important. And it divides many religious communities. There are large divisions among main line Protestants and Roman Catholics over religiosity, with more traditionally religious people tending to vote more Republican and be more conservative, and less traditionally religious people – not non-religious but traditionally less religious people – tend to be somewhat more liberal and vote more democratic. This creates a lot of tension in politics, but also a lot of tension within these religious communities. And our sense when we wrote the book was that that tension was being addressed in some creative ways, and we thought that it might diminish. But alas, it hasn’t. In fact, if anything we see a greater impact of religiosity on these divisions growing. And they’re based around certain key issues, particularly the so-called cultural or social issues, things such as abortion, same-sex marriage, gay rights, those types of questions. And it’s a little bit ironic, because the United States overall has become more tolerant on those issues. But at the same time that’s created greater tensions, based on religiosity.

Nick Stuart:    So, do you see this emergence of the Democrats as the secular part and Republicans and the religious party really impacting this election? I’m thinking specifically of an area like health insurance where the Democrats have talked about wanting to stand up for the rights of women and the Republicans seeing that issue in terms of religious freedom.

John Green:     I think that we may very well see religion have a big impact on the election. And healthcare is just a very good example of that. And we don’t know as of today exactly how the healthcare issue will be defined. If it’s defined in terms of health coverage, particularly for women, I think on balance that may favor the Democrats, because there are a lot of Americans – even people who are fairly traditional in their religiosity – who approve of that goal and are likely to support President Obama. On the other hand if this is defined as a religious liberty issue, then it could go the other way and we could see even some people who agree with President Obama on other things or maybe have some disagreements with the Republican Party, swinging more towards the Republican Party. Because religious liberty is another value that many people in the United States hold dear. There are a group of people who like both things. They like good co-, medical coverage, particularly for women, but they also like the idea of religious liberty and autonomy, for the degree of autonomy for the different religious communities in this country. So it’s a really interesting question – how will the question be defined?

Nick Stuart:    You're also a senior research advisor for Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion and Public Life. What for you personally was the most fascinating and telling elements that you’ve analyzed out of the Pew surveys when it comes to the way the American people see religion and its relationship to politics?

John Green:     For me personally the most interesting part of my work with the Pew Forum and the Pew Research Center has been able to look at small religious groups that are important in the political process but normally can’t be observed in any detail in a national survey because there are not very many of them. My colleagues at Pew did two national surveys of the Muslim population; large sample sizes, we say in polling. And that was fascinating because we could actually look at the beliefs of individual Muslims and how their ethnic background, their level of education, their gender, their race, impacted their connection to politics. That was absolutely fascinating. Again, in the typical survey you’d have just a handful of Muslims, so you wouldn't be able to look at them in great detail.

Another small group that we were able to look at in were Mormons, the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints. And it turned out there’s... From that survey we found there’s a lot more variation in the Mormon community than you might think. From national surveys – where again, you only had a handful of Muslims. So I think being able to look at some of those smaller but important religious communities was the most fascinating thing for me.

Nick Stuart:    Are they becoming more confident in their own belief or their own view that their voice should be heard and must be heard. Because again, comparing to the United Kingdom, immigrant communities tend to keep their heads their heads down for many generations and don’t actively get involved in politics.

John Green:     Well, I think there are immigrant communities in the United States that are really beginning to feel a lot more confident.

Nick Stuart:    You said earlier in the year on NPR - I'm going to quote you - and I quote - an awful lot of people do see religion of one kind or another as being the basis of morality. Now we can argue with that, you say, but that’s a view that a lot of people have. And so for a lot of voters, a short hand of whether that candidate has good morality, good values, commitment to transcendent beliefs, is a level of religiosity. And for a lot of voters, the level of faith, the level of religiosity is actually more important these days than the particular religious community they might be part of. So the question is: is religion the only way a candidate can relay morality to the public and based on those surveys, do you think we would ever see an atheist get elected in America?

John Green:     There are many ways that candidates can communicate their own moral values to the public, but a particularly powerful in the United States is by talking about their faith and by demonstrating their practice of their faith. And that’s because we see in survey after survey that many millions of Americans see in their own lives the basis of morality being in faith. Their particular faith, but also the faith of their neighbors, the faith of their relatives. And because the United States is religiously very diverse, most people understand that faith can be a source of morality apart from the particular kind of faith. So a very developed Muslim might have some basis of faith in their-, or morality in their religion the same way as a very developed Catholic. So a very effective way for a candidate to communicate those kinds of moral values to voters – and therefore seek their support on the basis of that – is to demonstrate their own faithfulness. The flipside of that though is candidates that don’t talk about their faith, or perhaps, don’t have very much because they’re not religious, have a difficult time communicating those basic values to voters. It would be very difficult for an atheist to be elected President of the United States for that reason alone, leave alone any other kinds of reasons that might have to do with that person individually. Now that might be able to happen in certain parts of the country where there are large non-religious populations, but for the presidency of the United States a candidate has to appeal to the population as a whole; a lack of religious faith is a detriment.

Nick Stuart:    Romney, in the Republican nomination, he was very quiet on religion and his faith. Do you think you’ll see a change in the way he talks about faith now he’s up against Obama?

John Green:     A really interesting question, how Governor Romney may or may not talk about his faith. One of the reasons he didn’t talk about it much in the Republican primaries was because there were blocks of Republican voters who were very skeptical of his particular faith; very skeptical of Mormonism. Now that’s a little bit unusual, because most Americans are fairly ecumenical, if you will, when it comes to other people’s faiths. They think people ought to have them, ought to have some faith, and therefore have some moral values on which they ground their choices and their behaviors, but the particular, faith isn’t as important. But here was an exception. Evangelical Protestants in particular, but some other groups as well, very important in Republican primaries, very skeptical of Mormonism. So when Governor Romney talked about his faith – which probably helped him-, would’ve helped him with some voters – it hurt him with Evangelicals. If he avoided talking about Evangelicals that could hurt him with voters... exactly. So this could be a, you know, pose Governor Romney with a very serious problem in the primaries. And in 2012 he talked more about his faith than he did in 2008, but only when other people brought it up; it was not something that he wanted to put front and center, because of these coalition problems, if you will. That may be different in the general election though. Because there he’s appealing to a much broader electorate. And many Evangelicals may end up voting for Governor Romney despite his religion, because now it’s a choice between Romney and Obama. And many Evangelicals have some problems with the President’s policies, and they prefer to vote Republican.

Nick Stuart:    So imagine you were in his campaign office. Mitt Romney turns to you and goes “John, what do I do here? Do I up the God talk?” What would you tell him?

John Green:     Well, first of all, I don’t advise politicians, which is actually a very good thing for me to-, because I’d make lots and lots of mistakes. But I would... If I were to give Governor Romney some advice I would say that any effort he could make to educate people about what Mormons believe, what their basic values are, would probably be to his benefit. Because many Americans share many of the basic values the Mormons share, because Mormons share many of the basic values of other religious groups in America. Most people don’t know a lot about Mormons. They think of them as being somewhat odd. And of course any religion can look odd from the outside if you don’t understand it very well. So I’m not sure that it would help Governor Romney to up the God talk, but to the extent that he could explain his faith and where its values overlap, with other-, the values of other groups, it could help him.

Nick Stuart:    What’s the nightmare scenario, do you think, for Romney and the Republicans with the White Evangelical vote?

John Green:     Many Republican leaders, and probably people in the Romney campaign, are concerned that Evangelicals will be unenthusiastic for the Republican ticket this year. And not turn out in large numbers, not make the phone calls and knock on doors and do the kinds of things that religious activists do to mobilize their co-religionists to vote one way or another. Now in a lot of states that won’t matter very much. In Alabama and Arkansas, those are probably pretty reliable Republican states. But there are key swing states where a lack of enthusiasm by White Evangelicals could be devastating. Florida would be a good example. Ohio would be another; Missouri would be yet another. So the nightmares that Republican leaders have is that this key voting bloc might be unenthusiastic and therefore not turn out in large numbers; perhaps even vote Republican among those who’ve turned out, but if the numbers are down that could make a big difference.

There was a similar worry in 2008. And many observers believed that one reason that Governor Palin was chosen as John McCain’s running mate was to try and develop some enthusiasm among White Evangelicals, which was lacking at that point. And there is some evidence that it did work; it did generate some enthusiasm. The problem was that Governor Palin probably cost the ticket with other kinds of voters, which is one of the problems you face in a two-party system.

Nick Stuart:    What about Obama? What do you expect Obama’s position to be in relation to religion? Because for the first two years, it was obvious he was very, very quiet on religion. And he’s only just recently begun to do the God talk. 

John Green:     President Obama faces in some ways the... an opposite problem of Governor Romney, which is that he has-, he needs to get... Can I start that over again? I didn’t mean to say opposite; I meant to say same problem. Let me start over.

In terms of the 2012 election President Obama faces a similar problem to Governor Romney, and that is to get key Democratic religious groups enthused and excited. African-American Protestants, Hispanic Catholics, the Jewish community, the Muslim community – these are groups that supported him in large numbers in 2008. But the issue now is will they have that kind of enthusiasm and excitement going into 2012. President Obama was very effective in 2008 in talking about his faith. He increased the Democratic support among White Evangelicals; he did very well among Roman Catholics; he needs to reach out and mobilize those kinds of voters once again if he’s going to replicate 2008. And President Obama has a special problem. And that is a significant number of Americans don’t really know what his religion is. And a large minority thinks he’s actually a Muslim. Now that’s inaccurate, but it can be a problem for some voters. And just as Governor Romney had some ambivalence of talking about his faith, President Obama has some ambivalence as well. His campaign has tried to explain that in fact he is a Christian, has always been a Christian, but there’s the danger that that will look like there’s something wrong with being a Muslim, which is not a point of view that the president would like to put across.

I think one of the dangers facing the Obama campaign is if President Obama were to decide to avoid God talk completely and not talk about religion; that that would reinforce a stereotype that some people have, which is that the Democratic Party is the party of the non-religious, and the Republican Party is the party of the religious. Of course it’s much more complicated than that, but many voters do deal in stereotypes, because it simplifies the choice before them. And a president who doesn’t talk about his faith risks being seen as being associated with non-believers.

Nick Stuart:    Let’s move from the politicians to us, the voters. Exit polls in 2008 showed the concerns about moral issues were the number one factor, the most influential factor in helping a voter determine how they voted, above politics… sorry… above terrorism, above economics. How do you see those influences now? Is morality still number one or is the economy going to knock religion and morality off its perch?

John Green:     All the early indications are that in 2012 the economy will be the most important issue. Partly because of the difficult economic situation we’ve had for the last several years, but also global economic problems have a big impact on the United States as well. So I think the economy is going to be central. I think questions of ‘moral values’, of social issues, will be much diminished.

Nick Stuart:    And is that harder for people who want to play the religious card to play it, because if you have sort of moral issues such as family values and relationships and abortion, then there’s always been a very clear relationship between the two - this is what religion says. When it comes to issues such as immigration or the economy, do you think it’s harder to play the religious card?

John Green:     It is much more complicated to talk about religious values and religious faith when we’re talking about the economy or those types of issues; immigration being another really good example. It’s complicated because religious values do not line up in a clear and easy fashion. If you take an issue like abortion, some people’s religious values line up on the pro-life side, some on the pro-choice side. It's relatively clear. But when we’re talking about something like creating jobs or national debt or the appropriate level of taxation, it’s a good bit more complicated, particularly at the level of the individual voter, who may not have a lot of time to invest in these questions or a lot of in depth knowledge on how the economy works. That doesn’t mean that religion won’t matter though. It means simply that religious appeals have to be more sophisticated; they have to operate through other types of concerns; that politicians have to approach the questions of the economy with a broader focus. They simply can’t invoke faith. Faith can be part of their appeal, but it has to be a more complicated and sophisticated message.

Nick Stuart:    Let’s move from the voter to the religious groups themselves and the religious figures, the leaders. The Catholic Bishops came out quite publically and criticized Congressman Paul Ryan for claiming their economic policies were Catholic. Do you see religious leaders stepping up to the plate and being vocal in that way in the election?

John Green:     Religious leaders have-, there’s a long tradition in the United States of religious leaders talking about issues. But they have to be careful about it, because most religious communities have a degree of political diversity, and they don’t-, within... and they don’t appreciate having their leaders tell them how to vote. Many Americans do appreciate hearing from their religious leaders about what a useful perspective might be. So it’s always a very complicated picture when it comes to the role of religious leaders. But where the real work gets done in politics is not with religious leaders, but with what we might call religious activists. People who are involved in the political parties, involved in interest groups; the vast majority of whom are not clergy or don’t hold any formal role, they’re simply individual people who take their faith seriously. And they can be very, very effective when they talk to the co-religionists after worship or in other contexts; when they raise issues separate from the official positions of their church or their synagogue. That can be very, very important. And I think we’ll see a very high level of discourse by religious activists in the 2012 election. Because those activists see that faith, their own faith and the faith of their religious traditions, as having a bearing on those issues.

Nick Stuart:       What do you think is a healthy contribution to this debate and the run-up to the election from religious leaders, whether they be national figures or grassroots figures?

John Green:     I think there are a number of things that religious leaders can do to help their parishioners and other Americans think about the relationship between religion and politics. One is to explain the moral basis of their positions. It’s very easy to advocate one’s position, but to actually explain the moral basis for why do we believe this, why do we think this is the right way to go. And if more leaders did that then I think there could be a very productive dialogue between the different religious communities.

But another thing that I think is important is for religious leaders to talk about priorities. There are lots of things that may be true and there are lots of things that may be just, but what are the priorities at this moment? Where should our energy be placed? Where can we have the most impact as citizens? On this issue or that issue. So I think the moral basis of positions and priorities are important contributions that religious leaders can bring to political debate.

Nick Stuart:    What do you think about a wider, deeper issue, looking at the balance between private morality and public policy when it comes to the election and how will that play out, how can that be used as a lens by which to look at and perhaps judge how this election will actually end up?

John Green:    Historically, and even in this election, the flashpoint of religious diversity has been public policy. Because that’s what authoritative structures like the state and federal government actually enforce. It’s not only about enforcing a particular perspective, it’s also about the symbolism that’s associated with something being accepted by the law or being against the law. So the flashpoint tends to be public policy. But virtually every religious leader I’ve ever talked to has put more emphasis on private morality. How do people behave in their private lives? How do they treat one another? How do they treat their business associates, their fellow employees, their family members? That issue comes up over and over again. And it could very well be that religious leaders of all sorts could have much more impact on the well-being of the country by helping people live good lives where they make good decisions and treat each other fairly and justly. Rather than focusing on public policy questions, which, while important, have a relatively limited impact on how ordinary people live their lives.

Nick Stuart:    One more question. And this just came to me. As the balance of power in the world changes, as the economies change, the growth of India especially and China, do you think Americans and American politicians, perhaps in the election will be looking to Hindus, Buddhists, religions of the people of… of immigrants from those emerging powerhouses? Do you think we’ll see something in this election which we haven’t seen before in relation to those religious minorities?

John Green:     I don’t know if the what are sometimes called the new religious minorities in the United States – Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims – I don’t know how big of a role they will play in this election, but I think long term, these groups are likely to be very, very important in American politics. Their numbers are growing rapidly in the United States, but also, because of globalization, the relationships of America with their regions of origin - with South Asia and the Middle East and Africa and so forth – is becoming much, much more important. And we actually have a model for this. If you look back in American history the way this has worked is as new groups have come to the United States and become more numerous, and greater connections have developed between this country and their countries of origin, that they become more influential; they become more and more important. And these groups don’t have to become large rapidly for their values and their influence to increase. So if you just try to look at American history you would forecast that over the next several decades Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, will become much more important. Because that’s what we saw with other groups in the past.

Nick Stuart:    Professor Green, it’s a fascinating topic and I’m sure it’ll get even more fascinating as we get closer to the election. Thank you very much indeed.

John Green:     You're very welcome.

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