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Putting Things in Context: Religious and Political Attachments over Time

Putting Things in Context: Religious and Political Attachments over Time

Chapter:
(p.19) Two Putting Things in Context: Religious and Political Attachments over Time
Source:
From Politics to the Pews
Author(s):
Michele F. Margolis
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226555812.003.0002

Chapter 2 provides an overview of religion’s role in American politics. In the 1970s and 1980s, Democratic and Republican elites for the first time staked out divergent positions on moral issues and used religious faith to varying degrees when reaching out to voters. At the same time, voters shifted from being politically divided along mainly denominational lines—for example, most Catholics were Democrats and most Protestants Republicans—to being divided along lines of religiosity—with devout Catholics and Protestants being Republicans and less religious Catholics and Protestants being Democrats. After describing the received wisdom on how this so-called “God gap” came about—religious individuals sorted into the Republican Party and the less religious became Democrats-the chapter concludes by explaining why this explanation is intuitively appealing yet ultimately unsatisfactory.

Keywords:   religion and politics, “God gap”, morality politics, Religious Right

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