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Belonging Without Belonging: Utilizing Evangelical Self-Identification to Analyze Political Attitudes and Preferences

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Abstract:

Research typically defines evangelical belonging as affiliation with an evangelical denomination, but this approach excludes many self-identified evangelicals, even though previous studies of religious groups find that self-identification is a powerful predictor of political preferences. Using data from the National Survey of Religion and Politics, we investigate the usefulness of self-identification for classifying evangelicals. The effects of three types of evangelical belonging (religious tradition-only, self-identification-only, and a combination of religious tradition and self-identification) on respondents’ political attitudes, party identification, and vote choice suggest that religious tradition is a good predictor of political attitudes while self-identification is a good predictor of party identification. We conclude that self-identification and tradition are both important to understanding evangelicalism and politics in America.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-5906.2009.01495.x

Affiliations: 1: Department of Government American University 2: Department of Sociology University of Massachusetts

Publication date: March 1, 2010

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