A recent study on religion by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life concluded that “most Americans have a non-dogmatic approach to faith,” leaving some to wonder if UNLV students feel the same way.
The report was first published in February and surveyed a cross section of more than 35,000 people in the U.S., to connect their religious beliefs to their social and political views.
According to the Pew forum, the makeup of religious traditions in Nevada is 27 percent Catholic, 13 percent Evangelic Protestant, 11 percent Mainline Protestant, 11 percent Mormon, 2 percent Muslim and 1 percent Jewish.
One of the findings of the Pew landscape survey is that approximately 70 percent of people reported that religion is not the main influence in their political decisions.
Bruce Hansen from the Latter Day Saints Institute of Religion believes that religion plays a bigger factor in politics for Mormon students than for most other students at UNLV.
“We as a church believe we should be involved in moral issues,” Hansen said. “The church doesn’t tell us what party to be affiliated with. In fact, we’ll get regular reminders during the political season that the church doesn’t endorse any particular party or candidate, but they do sometimes get behind certain moral issues and I think they have a moral imperative to do that.”
Steve Timmons, a member of the UNLV Christian Challenge, said that religious individuals will see that their political and religious views will naturally merge. “Whether they’re Democratic or Republican, their faith is still going to have a huge realm in what they’re doing,” Timmons said of Baptist students. “If you’re truly walking as a Christian, there’s a direct carry over into the political realm.”
Bir Azam, the vice-president of the Muslim Student Association said that politics has a different role for the students within his organization.
“They are concentrating [more] on foreign policy right now,” Azam said. “Most Muslims are aware of the War in Iraq. Obviously Muslims do not want war in a Muslim country.” Yassar Moten, the Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, agreed.
“Most Muslims I know here are mainly concerned with the candidate’s stances on foreign policy issues and civil rights issues such as racial profiling and illegal surveillance,” Moten said. (MORE)