Can the Religious Right Give Ted Cruz the Win?

But perhaps most important, the ideological foundation of the religious-right experiment has been exposed for the sham it always was. The movement’s pioneers once believed that if religious leaders and their constituents banded together, they could consolidate political power and leverage it to legislate a more moral agenda. But the cold hard truth is that religion is just not as influential in most Americans’ lives as it once was. Most churchgoers no longer follow a pastor’s advice blindly when told what candidate to vote for or which position to take on an issue. Americans do their own investigations and make up their own minds, often at variance with their spiritual leaders. The sociologists Robert Putnam and David Campbell confirmed this in their 2012 study of Americans’ religious attitudes. They concluded: “In effect, Americans (especially young Americans) who might otherwise attend religious services are saying, ‘Well, if religion is just about conservative politics, then I’m outta here.’”