OC to host Religion & Politics panel


The Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics will present its closing program of the fall semester, “Religion and Politics: Looking Ahead to the 2024 Elections,” next Wednesday night. 

Overby Fellow Terry Mattingly and Charles Overby will discuss the role religion plays in American politics while focusing on the midterm elections. Mattingly is one of the most respected journalists in the nation regarding the topic of religion. On the heels of this month’s midterms, and with the 2024 elections coming up in just two short years, several trends are starting to emerge. 

“This issue is a lot bigger than worrying about a white evangelical protestants in American politics,” Mattingly said. “That’s a huge issue but really, what is happening to the Catholic vote and the Latino vote are the most important things to watch right now. I have been particularly intrigued that the percentage of the Latinos who are voting Republican is going up, and no one saw that coming. And there seems to be a number of reasons for that, but moral, cultural and religious issues seem to be a part of that mix.”  

Political scientist Ryan Burge will be joining virtually to provide statistics and context to the recent midterm election results. Mattingly says that with so many different beliefs and viewpoints currently floating around in the public conversation, it becomes very difficult to please everyone in each political party.

“America is such an incredibly divided nation right now,” Mattingly said. “This shows up in all our elections with how close they are. It’s all pretty complex, but I think the big picture is that America is getting more and more divided. I am convinced that religious, moral and cultural issues are fueling that divide.”

Mattingly writes a nationally syndicated column called On Religion and runs GetReligion.org, a blog focused on the religious climate in America and, more specifically, the media’s coverage of the topic. He was the founder of the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, and had been a fellow at the Overby Center since 2020. 

2022 has been an especially fractured year for America’s religious voters. In June, the Supreme Court voted 5-3 to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade court decision and allow states to determine their own laws regarding abortion rights. The ruling led to widespread protests in many major cities such as D.C., New York City, and Los Angeles. Opinions on the issue are largely split along religious lines. 

“While the assumption is that abortion and the fall of abortion and Roe v Wade will be the dominant issue, I’m not sure that that’s what we will see,” Mattingly said. “I think it will be a big issue in some parts of the country”. 

All Overby Center programs begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Overby Auditorium on the campus of the University of Mississippi and are open to the public. A generous reception and open bar will follow.