Young people are turning away from churches because they associate Christianity with Republican politics, a study reveals.
Political science Professors David Campbell (University of Notre Dame) and Robert Putnam (Harvard University) published their findings, “God and Caesar in America: Why Mixing Religion and Politics Is Bad for Both,” in the March/April edition of Foreign Affairs. Campbell and Putnam also wrote American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us (2010), which was recently released in paperback. For that book, they have been surveying the same group of people from 2006 to 2011. The same data was used for the Foreign Affairs article.
One of the most surprising findings from the data they collected, Campbell said in a March 13 interview with The Christian Post, was that people are driven away or toward religious involvement because of their political leanings. In particular, those who are politically conservative, or Republican, are more likely to become churchgoers and those that are politically liberal, or Democratic, are more likely to turn away from religion.
This is the opposite of previous understandings of the interaction of religion and politics. Social scientists believed that people first got involved in a particular religion, which then influenced their politics in some way. Increasingly, more studies like Campbell and Putnam’s are finding, though, that politics is more likely to determine religion than religion determine politics.
Campbell likes to use the image of a “brand” from marketing. The Republican brand has been increasingly associated with religion and social conservatism due to the influence of the Christian Right, a social movement which has been a part of the Republican coalition since the 1980s. Moderates and Democrats are uncomfortable with that brand and seek to not be identified with it.
“A lot of what goes on in politics is not so much people thinking through political positions but it’s sort of a visceral reaction you have to a brand, whether it be Republicans or Democrats,” Campbell said.
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SOURCE: Christian Post