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The Political Activity of Evangelical Clergy in the Election of 2000: A Case Study of Five Denominations

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This article focuses on the political participation of ministers from five evangelical Protestant denominations that differ in theology, polity, and history. Despite such differences, these clergy respond to political influences in much the same fashion. We find that the standard theories of political participation have varying success in accounting for their political involvement. Sociodemographic explanations provide little help, but psychological engagement with politics has more explanatory power. Professional role orientations are the best predictors of actual participation. And the clergy who see moral reform issues as the most important confronting the country—and who hold conservative views on such issues—are most likely to become engaged. Finally, membership in Christian Right organizations serves to elicit more activity than might occur if ministers were left to internally motivated participation. Despite the emphasis on other contextual variables in some work on clerical politics, we find that communications exposures, congregational influences, and even the support of clerical colleagues have very limited independent effects on political involvement.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Furman University, Greenville, 2: Point Loma Nazarene University, San Diego 3: University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg 4: Concordia University Wisconsin, Lake Shore 5: Furman University, Greenville 6: Calvin College, Grand Rapids 7: Concordia University Wisconsin

Publication date: December 1, 2003


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