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 dont want to be a part of religion, because they dont 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 couldnt believe that people were making choices about their religious behavior on the basis of their politics because I couldnt 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. Thats part of the larger story that we tell about how, over the last half century, one major earthquakethe 60swas followed by two aftershocksthe 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.