From the terrorists associated with Al-Qaeda flying airplanes into the World Trade Center in 2001 to millions of Catholics throughout the world supporting the Pope as the spiritual authority on social issues, religion affects social politics by influencing policies and the ways politicians approach divisive issues. While Pew research indicates that Americans believe religion is having less of an influence on politics than in years past, it also shows that people consider this a bad thing.
In 2005, a Danish newspaper published cartoon depictions of the Prophet of Islam, including one in which the turban on his head appeared as a bomb. Protests ensued throughout Muslim countries, leading to an attack on Danish embassies and several countries imposing an embargo on Danish goods. It also sparked a debate about how to balance freedom of speech with consideration for cultural differences. Moreover, it brought forth the question of whether Muslim values were reconcilable with Western norms.
Historically black Protestant denominations have a large number of low-income congregants who would benefit from social programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the Affordable Care Act. Unsurprisingly, Baptists support a government that offers such services. On the other hand, Protestant groups such as the Episcopal church, the Presbyterian Church and the United Methodist Church, whose members earn a higher salary on average, tend to favor smaller government and fewer services. Catholics, whose incomes often average out in the middle of the salary scale, tend to be middle-of-the-road for political preferences.