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What Kind of Christian Are You? Religious Ideologies and Political Attitudes

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Through measures of orthodoxy, images of God, and instrumental beliefs, scholars of the social scientific study of religion have been able to demonstrate how abstract and specific religious beliefs influence political and social attitudes. Building upon this work, this article uses a unique data set to measure social and prosperity gospel support. Further, it examines the roots and political behavioral consequences of support to these religious ideologies. The results show that religious tradition, congregational messages, and social demographics all influence doctrinal support. However, these relationships are conditional upon race. The results also show that the social gospel promotes an emphasis on the structural sources of social problems and the importance of rehabilitation, which leads to higher levels of self‐expressed liberalism and democratic identification. Conversely, the prosperity gospel promotes holding individuals accountable for social problems and punishing deviant behavior, which leads to higher levels of self‐expressed conservatism and Republican identification. The data also suggest that race matters, as the relationship between prosperity gospel support and political attitudes is more powerful for blacks than whites.
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Keywords: beliefs; prosperity gospel; public opinion; race; social gospel

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2016

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