Despite the real possibilities of alienating paying customers, the NFL, Starbucks, Target, Chick Fil-A and a host of entertainers continue choosing sides in an escalating culture war centering on America’s past and future. As a new poll documents, citizens increasingly fear expressing their love of country or expressing their political views, for instance by wearing a Make America Great Again cap.
George Barna, executive director of the American Culture and Faith Institute, recently released a patriotism poll documenting a surprising degree of polarization and politicization of Americans after the first year of President Donald Trump’s governance.
Different world views, values and even meanings of words fragment the citizenry...
For conservatives, according to the poll, the most patriotic organizations and individuals include the National Rifle Association, Chick-Fil-A, the Republican Party, Fox News and Hobby Lobby. The least patriotic to conservatives are: CNN, The New York Times, NFL, Planned Parenthood, Target, Starbucks, Colin Kaepernick, Michael Moore, Rachel Maddow and Al Sharpton.
Liberals think the most patriotic institutions and people are the Democratic Party, Colin Kaepernick, the U.S. Supreme Court, Planned Parenthood, Michael Moore, The New York Times, and the NFL. The least patriotic to liberals are Chick-Fil-A, Fox News and Hobby Lobby.
To Barna, the NFL “take a knee” controversy was a cultural flashpoint demanding citizens and leaders to take a stand. His survey showed that conservatives were offended by the NFL while liberals were excited about the courage of those making a stand. Trump, Barna says, did the right thing to weigh in, as elected leaders have the responsibility to make sense of the reality unfolding around them.
Ninety-one percent of who Barna labels as SAGECONS (spiritually active, governance engaged, Christian conservatives) turned out to vote in the presidential election in 2016, and 93 percent of them voted for Trump. While only 9 percent of SAGECONS supported Trump in June 2015, 93 percent of them voted for him in November 2016. Also surprising, Barna says, is that while 58 percent of Americans voted nationwide, 91 percent of these faith-based voters came out to vote. These faith-driven voters “had a huge impact” even though they still weren’t huge fans of Trump, but they had grown more comfortable with him on some life issues and constitutional judges.
Barna believes that people’s worldview is the single most important consideration for where the future of America lies, yet these competing world views are pulling the country apart. As a sociologist, he sees the value of people’s faith as a cornerstone to what America is becoming and doing.
Progressives have been waging cultural and language battles in our schools, churches, families, media and government for decades. Liberals in Barna’s poll indicated that free speech was important, but yet there is growing intolerance of civil debate and views that offend the politically correct cultural elite. Language and values are being redefined.
"Cultural marxists have been winning (in our institutions and culture), but the battle is not over,” Barna said.
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Barna has been doing national public opinion surveys since the 1970s. He sold his company, The Barna Group, nine years ago and started American Culture and Faith Institute with work focused on what can we do to turn the culture around.
For more on George Barna, read his book “The Day Christians Changed America” that summarized some 45 surveys in the 2016 election cycle studying how faith influenced voters on issues and candidates. See his website to explore his research or subscribe to his free newsletter.