Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Degree

Summer 2017

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Political Science

First Advisor

Caroline J. Tolbert

Abstract

How does religion influence politics in the United States? Religion and politics are intertwined because individual citizens often use their religious background to inform their political decisions. Scholars have studied how which religious group a person belongs to, how often they participate in religious activities, and how the strength of religious beliefs all shape political attitudes and opinions. Most research in this area, however, has been limited to examining religion of the individual, rather than religion of place. An overlooked aspect of the religion-politics link is the impact of the religious environment all around us, or the blending and mixing of religious groups in our communities.

The American religious landscape has changed quite a bit over the past several decades, and politics has changed with it. This study introduces a new way to measure religious affiliation of state populations, and examines its role in shaping how Americans view politics. The religious makeup of the state a person lives in has a direct effect on which party Americans prefer, Americans’ leanings toward liberal or conservative ideologies, and on public opinion across a wide variety of issues. Both the overall religious diversity, and conflict between religious-conservative and secular-liberal groups play an important role in how people view politics, growing in importance over the past three decades.

Pages

xi, 178 pages

Bibliography

Includes bibliographical references (pages 163-178).

Copyright

Copyright © 2017 Kellen J. Gracey

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