Sunday, October 24, 2010

Survey Results, and Commentary

Readers: A few weeks back I asked for your help with a survey on political attitudes in Asatru in America, with a second survey on non-Asatru pagans in America. Today, as promised, I have the results, along with my own commentary between questions and at the end.

Survey Comparison

Comparing Results from my “Political Perspectives” Surveys. October 24, 2010. Survey limited to American members of Ásatru and other forms of Paganism. 193 Ásatrú respondents, 279 Non-Ásatrú Pagan respondents.

Question 1. Perception of dominant political perspective in your type of Paganism:

(Ásatrú): Liberal: 10.6 %. Conservative: 25.9%. Moderate: 32.8%. Libertarian: 38.6%
(Non-Ása): Liberal: 77.7%. Conservative: 3.6 %. Moderate: 18.0%. Libertarian: 9.4%.
(Note: this question had a design flaw on the non-Ásatrú side which allowed respondents to choose more than one answer. I could not change the question without voiding a large number of results. Even with this flaw, the overall trend is clear, with Ásatrú leaning more toward the conservative side of the spectrum, non-Ásatrú Pagan favoring the liberal side.)

Question 2. Feeling about U.S. Government:

(Ásatrú): Gov’t too big, too many unnecessary functions: 58.6%.
Gov’t should try to solve social problems: 34.6%. No feelings either way: 6.8%
(Non-Ása): Gov’t too big, too many unnecessary functions: 28%.
Gov’t should try to solve social problems: 65.2%. No feeling either way: 6.8%

Question 3. Feeling about U.S. Military:

(Ásatrú): Love military, trust it completely: 26.3%.
Too much spent on military, needs to reduce: 49.5%. No feelings either way: 24.2%
(Non-Ása): Love military, trust it completely: 11.7%.
Too much spent on military, needs to reduce: 67.2%. No feelings either way: 21.2%
(Note: I received many complaints about the wording of this question, which accounts for the substantial minority who took the “no opinion” option. I can readily concede it was the worst-conceived question. Nonetheless, it does show a clear difference, Ásatrú more pro-military and less eager to reduce military spending than non-Ásatrú.)

Question 4. Are you a military veteran?

(Ásatrú): Yes: 18.2%, No: 81.8%. (Non-Ása): Yes: 10.9%, No 89.1%.

Question 5. Question on how respondent’s form of Paganism relates to ethnic identity:

(Ásatrú): Ásatrú only for people of N. Euro ancestry: 4.1%.
Open to people of any ethnic background: 30.6%.
Mainly for people of N. Euro ancestry, but open to others with strong interest: 65.3%.
(Non-Ása): Only for people of European ancestry: 0.4%.
Open to people of any ethnic background: 92.1%.
Mainly for people of European ancestry, but open to others with strong interest: 7.6%.
(Clearly, this question points out that ethnic-ancestral identity is more highly valued and more likely to be exclusive in Ásatrú than in non-Ásatrú forms of Paganism.)

Question 6. Question whether form of Paganism accepts interracial sex and marriage:

(Ásatrú): Yes: 85%. No: 6.2%. Not sure: 8.8%.
(Non-Ása): Yes: 95.3%. No: 2.5%. Not sure: 2.2%.
(Difference not huge, but shows more acceptance of interracial relations among non-Ásatrú Pagans.)

Question 7. Question what stance you think your form of Paganism should take toward racism:

(Ásatrú): Should strongly, clearly denounce: 72.3%. Should not take stance, leave to individual choice: 22.4%. No position, feels this is phony issue. 5.2%.
(Non-Ása): Should strongly, clearly denounce: 87.4%. Should not take stance, leave to individual choice: 10.1%. No position, feels this is phony issue: 2.5%.
(This suggests greater resolve to renounce/reject racism among non-Ásatrú Pagans.)

Question 8. Question what stance you think your form of Paganism should take toward Nazism and Neo-Nazism:

(Ásatrú): Should strongly, clearly denounce: 78.2%. Should not take stance, leave to individual choice: 17.6%. No position, feels this is phony issue. 4.1%.
(Non-Ása): Should strongly, clearly denounce: 87.8%. Should not take stance, leave to individual choice: 7.9%. No position, feels this is phony issue: 4.3%.

Question 9: Do you think compassion is an important moral virtue?

(Ásatrú): Yes: 85%. No: 6.2%. Not sure: 8.8%.
(Non-Ása): Yes: 95.3. No: 2.5%. Not sure: 2.2%.
(Not huge difference, but suggests more liberal tendencies of non-Ásatrú Pagans, corresponding to larger number who favor gov’t programs for social programs in question 2 and next question.)

Question 10: Do you think government should help disadvantaged groups in society?

(Ásatrú): Yes: 63.%. No: 13.5%. Not sure: 22.9%.
(Non-Ása): Yes: 82.8%. No: 3.9%. Not sure: 13.9%.

:: Overall, I think the survey, despite its flaws, does manage to highlight some distinctive patterns. Ásatrú Pagans tend to trend more conservative and/or libertarian, and to be more involved in and supportive of the military, with less support for government programs, interracial relations, and helping the disadvantaged, all of which are in line with the views and values of conservative and libertarian political ideology in the USA. Non-Ásatrú Pagans tend to trend more towards the liberal end of the spectrum, and to be less involved in and supportive of the military, with more support for government programs, interracial relations, and helping the disadvantaged, all of which are in line with the views and values of liberal-leftist political ideology in the USA.

The most striking differences are in regards to questions of ethnicity and race. While an overwhelming 92.1 % majority of non-Ásatrú Pagans are emphatic about allowing people of any racial or ethnic background to join their religion, less than a third of Ásatrú respondents embrace this option, with 65.3% of Ásatrúar favoring the less open, more guarded option of favoring N. European ethnic background but possibly allowing those of other ethnic backgrounds to join too. A consistently lower proportion of Ásatrú Pagans endorse their religion taking a clear stand against racism, Nazism and neo-Nazism than among non-Ásatrú Pagans.

Speaking personally, this is the result that I find most troubling. I want to be part of a Pagan movement that is clear on where it stands in rejecting racism and Nazism, and not only those specific words, but any and all related attitudes of the superiority of one racial, ethnic or ancestral group over another. This survey suggests that a fair proportion of American Ásatrúar are ambivalent or uncertain about how they feel about ethnicity and race in relation to Ásatrú. I continue to hope to make common cause with other Ásatrúar who share a dedication to ethnic and racial openness and equality.

I have received some criticism for doing this survey, with the suggestion being made that I am stirring up trouble unnecessarily by raising such questions. I disagree. I believe that if Ásatrú doesn’t openly discuss such issues and take a firm stance against racism, white supremacy, and related ideologies and movements, it will always be suspected of harboring and sheltering those who do have such agendas. If the US military can take a clear stand against racism and open its doors to all races and ethnic identities, why can’t American Ásatrú?

Thanks for your help. I look forward to comments, both appreciative and critical, though hopefully not hateful.

4 comments:

MissGabbi said...

wow you really generalized my beliefs and those of us who have them. I didnt see ANYTHING that said that Asatru and Heathens were pro nazism or neonazism. Not really sure were you get that from your information. As Sena points out, what is your base and size of group for the survey. Also, I never saw the survey myself. I find it extremely disturbing because it appears that your trying to put down Asatru and Heathenry. THAT bothers me because my faith is very important to me and as a Shaman I really am having a difficult time with your misconception and misrepresentation of my faith to others.

Maelstrom said...

DAMN IT!! I was trying to clean up a backlog of comments and just deleted about 20,including my own. I will try to see if I can retrieve them from my own email and repost them as one LONG single message. Many apologies.

Michael said...

"Speaking personally, this is the result that I find most troubling. I want to be part of a Pagan movement that is clear on where it stands in rejecting racism and Nazism, and not only those specific words, but any and all related attitudes of the superiority of one racial, ethnic or ancestral group over another."

What on earth does any of this have to do with religion?!

Call me old fashioned, but I want to be part of an Asatru movement that worships the Æsir and Vanir, I resent the implication that I have some sort of responsibility to make comments about particular political groups. As I get older and more entrenched in a Heathen mindset, I become less and less interested in politics and I think I have the right to be apolitical. But if I was to make a list of political ideologies that we should be renouncing, then surely Communism should be top of the list, since it has been far more destructive and oppressive than Nazism ever was.

inhumandecency said...

I see you got at least one sample size criticism, but your sample is actually pretty good. On the question about nazism, the ~10 point difference between groups is statistically significant (chi-square=26.19, p=.0001), meaning that it's wildly unlikely that this kind of thing could happen by chance. (this doesn't do anything to address the representativeness of your samples, though).

Did the question also have an option for "fascism is awesome and my religion should support it?"

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