Janelle Wong is an Associate Professor of American Studies and the Director of Asian American Studies at University of Maryland in College Park, MD. Her research focuses on race, immigration, and political mobilization. Dr. Wong is the author of Democracy’s Promise: Immigrants and American Civic Institutions (2006, University of Michigan Press) and co-author of two books on Asian American politics. She is currently working on a book about the impact Asian American and Latino evangelical Christians will have on the traditional conservative Christian movement and immigrant political participation. Recently, PRRI had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Wong in depth about some of the 2014 American Values Survey’s findings on Asian Americans.
This Thursday, Mitt Romney will accept the GOP’s nomination as the 2012 Republican Party candidate. In his speech, however, Romney will have a significant challenge: discussing his Mormon faith without delving into the specifics of Mormon theology. In other words, he will need to employ the familiar rhetoric of civil religion. However, a misstep could damage the support among white evangelical Protestants that he has taken more than a year to build up:
It’s clear that Romney will need to talk about his faith this week. White evangelical Protestant voters nearly unanimously (93 percent) agree that it’s important for a presidential candidate to have strong religious beliefs, while almost 8-in-10 (78 percent) Republican voters and two-thirds (67 percent) of voters overall hold the same belief. For some of these voters, however, mere religiosity is not enough: over one-third (39 percent) of white evangelical Protestant voters and nearly 1-in-5 (19 percent) voters overall who say that it’s important for a presidential candidate to have strong religious beliefs also say they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who had strong beliefs if those beliefs were very different from their own. Worryingly for Romney, two-thirds (68 percent) of white evangelical Protestants say that Romney’s Mormon faith is different from their own.
To read the full piece, head to “Figuring Faith,” Dr. Robert P. Jones’ Washington Post blog.