Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

In an interview about their new book , American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us , sociologists Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell about one of the main findings that surprised them:

Campbell: We were surprised at the evidence we found both in our data and in other data, like the General Social Survey, that your politics can affect your religion. It can go in two directions. On the one hand, it can lead some folks to say, “well, I don’t want to be a part of religion,” because they don’t like what they see as the influence of politics on religion. But it actually also goes the other way. We do find evidence that people who are themselves politically conservative over at least a short period of time become a little more religious. That accumulates year after year, and they become increasingly so and separate from those who are liberal and not religious.

Putnam: For a long time I couldn’t believe that people were making choices about their religious behavior on the basis of their politics because I couldn’t imagine that people would be making choices that might affect their eternal fate on the basis of how they felt about George W. Bush or Bill Clinton. Yet, our data show that people make choices either to attend church or not to attend church based in part on their political views. That’s part of the larger story that we tell about how, over the last half century, one major earthquake—the 60s—was followed by two aftershocks—the rise of evangelical Protestantism in the 70s and 80s and then the rise of what we and others call the young “nones,” that is, young people who say they have no religious affiliation at all.

Read more . . .

Dear Reader,

Your charitable support for First Things is urgently needed before July 1.

First Things is a proudly reader-supported enterprise. The gifts of readers like you— often of $50, $100, or $250—make articles like the one you just read possible.

This Spring Campaign—one of our two annual reader giving drives—comes at a pivotal season for America and the church. With your support, many more people will turn to First Things for thoughtful religious perspectives on pressing issues of politics, culture, and public life.

All thanks to you. Will you answer the call?

Make My Gift

Comments are visible to subscribers only. Log in or subscribe to join the conversation.



Filter First Thoughts Posts

Related Articles