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A Liberal Dynamo: The Political Activism of the Unitarian-Universalist Clergy

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Abstract:

This article describes the political participation of Unitarian-Universalist Association (UUA) clergy in politics, using a mail survey of UUA clergy. The UUA is the preeminent liberal denomination in the United States, and although it is a relatively small part of the population, it is vastly overrepresented among political activists. The UUA clergy are deeply involved in political activity and were especially so in the 2000 election. Largely consistent with the literature, the UUA clergy tend to specialize in various modes of activism, and five types are evident: campaigners, protestors, contactors, educators, and a relatively inactive group of observers. Theology, social theology, partisanship, ideology, and issue positions are all associated with political activism in this relatively homogenous group of clergy. However, these factors largely play an indirect role in explaining the level of political activity, acting through factors such as psychological engagement, issue salience, and clergy role definitions. In sum, the UUA clergy is a liberal dynamo in American politics.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1046/j.1468-5906.2003.00204.x

Affiliations: The University of Akron, OH

Publication date: December 1, 2003

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