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What we learned about religious voters from the 2022 midterms

Here are key takeaways related to abortion, Islam, antisemitism and other issues

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Voters mark their ballots Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022 at Lawrenceville Road United Methodist Church in Tucker, Ga.

Voters mark their ballots for the midterm election Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022 at Lawrenceville Road United Methodist Church in Tucker, Ga.

Ben Gray, Associated Press

This article was first published in the State of Faith newsletter. Sign up to receive the newsletter in your inbox each Monday night.

It’s been almost a week since Election Day, but we’re still waiting on the final results in a number of races.

However, plenty of great reporting about religion’s role in the 2022 midterms has already been done, and I wanted to highlight a few of my favorite pieces here.

I’ve organized the links by their main topic and attempted to summarize the lessons they hold. So without further ado, here are four religion-related takeaways from the midterms, drawn from seven different stories.

Faith groups do not speak with one voice on abortion. They also don’t agree on where to go from here.

Opponents of abortion rights had a tough Election Day. Voters in three states enshrined a right to access abortion care in the state constitution, while voters in two others denied efforts to restrict access.

People of faith were among those who mourned these results, but they were also among those celebrating them. As research from The Associated Press showed, even Catholics, who are taught by their church that abortion is morally wrong, are closely divided over what abortion policies should look like.

Here are three stories on religion, abortion and the 2022 midterms:

Muslim Americans are running for office — and winning — at historic rates.

Muslim Americans still regularly face discrimination in the United States due to their religion and race, but this year’s midterm results show that they’re overcoming those obstacles and connecting with voters.

More than 80 Muslim candidates won their races this year, up from 71 in 2020, according to Religion News Service.

Jewish voters remain closely aligned with the Democratic Party, in large part because of antisemitism concerns.

Election Day came amid growing concerns over antisemitism, and polls showed that many Jews blame former President Donald Trump and other Republican leaders for the rising hate, according to Religion News Service.

It’s no surprise, then, that a large majority of Jewish voters once again sided with Democratic candidates.

In the Georgia Senate runoff election, religion has a unique role to play on both sides.

The Georgia Senate runoff election pits a Baptist minister against a former NFL star. Each candidate uses religion to connect with their supporters, although they do so in very different ways.

“It’s two completely different visions of the world and what our biggest problems actually are,” said the Rev. Ray Waters, a Georgia voter, to The Associated Press.

Here are two stories on the religiously significant contest between the Rev. Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker.

Fresh off the press

The link between faith and young people’s mental health, explained

Term of the week: Haaland v. Brackeen

Last week, the Supreme Court considered the future of Indian Child Welfare Act, a policy that requires the government to prioritize placing Native American children who end up in state custody in Native American foster homes. The couple who brought the case, called Haaland v. Brackeen, argue that the law, passed in 1978, promotes racial discrimination.

“Lawyers for the Brackeens argue that the law discriminates against Native American children as well as non-Native families who want to adopt them because it determines placements based on race. But tribes say they are political entities, not racial groups,” The New York Times reported.

Although Haaland v. Brackeen is not a religious liberty case, it is religiously significant, since one of the outcomes the Indian Child Welfare Act sought to prevent was the forced conversion of Native American children. “This absolutely is about culture/religion,” said Robert Miller, a law professor at Arizona State University, to Religion News Service.

During oral arguments on Nov. 9, Justice Neil Gorsuch, an expert on Native law, raised a different but related faith-based concern. He questioned whether overturning the Indian Child Welfare Act would threaten other legal protections offered to Native Americans because of their status, including religious freedom protections.

“Gorsuch ... expressed concern that, if the Supreme Court were to strike down ICWA on the ground that it exceeded Congress’ power, other laws intended to benefit Native Americans — on topics ranging from health care and the environment to religious liberties — would also be in jeopardy,” SCOTUSblog reported.

Supreme Court experts believe the court is closely divided in the case. A ruling is expected by the end of June.

What I’m reading ...

If you read my article on young people and faith, you’ll see some insights from Is Perlman, a Columbia University student who became more — not less — involved in religion as a student. During our interview, I told Perlman that the shift surprised me, given the commonly held belief that college students almost always drift away from their childhood faith. But as it turns out, the data doesn’t bear out that assumption. Research shows that Americans with a college degree or more are more likely than others to align with a faith tradition, according to a new Religion News Service report.

Neumann University in Pennsylvania recently partnered with Catholic nuns to increase housing options for students. Now, 40 young men and women call the convent home (paywall). “Sisters and students are now getting in the habit of meeting up for nature walks, trading travel tips, planning knitting lessons, extending occasional dinner invitations and marveling at the lives one another leads,” The Wall Street Journal reported.

Odds and ends

Looking for TV recommendations? The streaming service Peacock just released a miniseries called “The Calling” featuring a detective who draws on his Jewish faith to solve crimes.