1.29.19 Democrats Fear Howard Schultz May Help Trump

Howard Schultz, the billionaire former CEO of Starbucks and former owner of the Seattle Supersonics, said in an interview with “60 Minutes” that he was exploring the idea of running for president. Now, Democrats around the country are begging him not to. That’s because they’re afraid that Schultz, who would likely run as an independent, would siphon away moderates and anti-Trumpers who might otherwise vote for the Democratic nominee. 2020 contender Julian Castro says, “I have a concern that if he did run, that, essentially, it would provide Donald Trump with his best hope of getting re-elected.” Recent PRRI data show that 36 percent of Americans identify as independents, while 23 percent identify as Republicans and 35 percent identify as Democrats. Forty-five percent of those who identify as an independent or with another political affiliation say they would lean towards voting for a Democrat if they had to choose between the two parties, compared to 34 percent who say they would lean Republican.

New Bills Would Bring the Bible Into Public Schools

Numerous Christian advocacy groups are pushing legislation that would encourage public school districts to teach Bible-based classes. Bills requiring or encouraging “Bible literacy” electives have been introduced throughout the country, including in Florida, Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota, Virginia, and West Virginia. Erin Richards writes at USA Today, “Proposals from lawmakers in at least six states would require or encourage public schools to offer elective classes on the Bible’s literary and historical significance. That’s a more narrow focus than what’s typically covered in courses on world religions.” President Trump tweeted out his support for these bills on Monday morning. Introducing religious themes, studies, and prayers has long been a contentious topic in the U.S. In January 2016, PRRI asked Americans if a football coach at a public high school should be allowed to lead his team in prayer. Seventy-three percent of Americans believe this would be acceptable, while 24 percent disagree.

Will Texas Voter Report Do More Harm Than Good?

A voter report released by the office of the Texas secretary of state and the Texas Department of Public Safety is being criticized by Democrats. The report questions the citizenship of 95,000 Texans, including over 50,000 who have cast votes in the state at some point since 1996. The secretary of state’s office has advised local law enforcement to reach out to those voters by mail and ask them to provide proof of citizenship. Kristen Clarke, the president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, tells The New York Times that the report could have negative impacts on registered voters. “Texas has a rich history of undertaking action to make it harder for people to vote,” she says. “Whenever you’re invoking the threat of criminal prosecution, the chilling effect becomes almost unavoidable.” Per PRRI polling from last year, 38 percent of Americans say eligible voters being denied the right to vote is a major problem in the country’s election system. However, Democrats (58 percent) are much more likely than Republicans (19 percent) to identify this as a major issue.  

Christianity’s Future: Lady Gaga or Mike Pence?

“Christianity’s future looks more like Lady Gaga than Mike Pence,” argues progressive Christian writer and activist Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons in an op-ed at CNN. “I am a Christian woman, and what I do know about Christianity is that we bear no prejudice, and everybody is welcome,” Lady Gaga recently said about the vice president after it was reported that Pence’s wife, Karen, was working at a Christian school that bans LGBTQ students and parents. Graves-Fitzsimmons also describes a back-and forth over Christians’ responsibility to address climate change between White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). In the exchange, Sanders argues that the phenomenon should be left up to God. Ocasio-Cortez, meanwhile, has argued that “God commands all people to serve and protect creation.” To contextualize these different interpretations, Graves-Fitzsimmons cites PRRI data on Christians’ attitudes on a number of issues. “Roughly two-thirds of Catholics (like Ocasio-Cortez and Lady Gaga), Orthodox Christians, and mainline Protestants favor same-sex marriage, according to the Public Religion Research Institute’s 2017 survey. And even among white evangelical Protestants like Sanders, a huge change is happening, with twice as many young evangelicals favoring same-sex marriage (53 percent) as those over 65 (25 percent), according to the same survey,” Graves-Fitzsimmons writes.