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First take

There’ll be a lot more of this to come, but I found today’s Charles Krauthammer column of some interest (and that’s not so typically the case) as a differentiator of the many Republican candidates: Who’s in the top rank, who’s just below that, etc. Krauthammer’s take: On top – Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, based on polling and money; Second rank – Rand Paul (“high floor, low ceiling”), Ben Carson; Third rank but prospects for growth – Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Carly Fiorina; and, seeking divine intervention – Rick Perry, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee. Best line: That Perry is on “24-hour gaffe watch.” My take: all of these candidacies are built on sand but I’d especially down-rank Carson and Fiorina. One other thought: With Iowa Republicans cancelling the summer straw poll this year, the off-the-top-of-your-head analysis like these surely will proliferate.

The number of people answering “none” to the question of “what’s your religion” has been growing rapidly in just the last few years and is picking up steam. After many years in which the “nones” were reported in mid-single digit percentages, the number has been shooting upward of late, reaching – in the new Pew Research Center poll – about 23%. That happens to be more than the number of Roman Catholics in the United States. Speculation here is that this reflects not so much a change of attitude or belief as it does a willingness to give the “none” answer: In many places across the country, being unchurched is just socially unacceptable. Maybe not so much any more, and the numbers may indicate the approach of a tipping point. If so, it could be in line with the way several other social questions have gone in the last decade or so.

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