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Self-Selection, Church Attendance, and Local Civic Participation

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Prior research has shown that church attendance affects voting participation, but has a negative or no effect on more demanding forms of political participation. I argue that this differential for nonelectoral activity partially results from biases in how scholars conceptualize and analyze church attendance variables. To properly measure the influence of church attendance on nonelectoral participation, scholarship needs to account for self-selection biases that hinder accurate analyses. Consistent with the literature, a selection model finds that once fundamentalism's motivating effect is considered, church attendance plays no role in a respondent's participation in local government meetings. The present work provides a partial explanation for why attendance has no effect on more demanding political activity. These findings demonstrate that scholarship should focus attention on prior factors that influence congregants' attendance decisions.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Political Science, University of Michigan, 611 Church Street, Suite 334, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104-3028., Email:

Publication date: 2001-09-01

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