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From Politics to the PewsHow Partisanship and the Political Environment Shape Religious Identity$
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Michele F. Margolis

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226555645

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226555812.001.0001

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Tracking Religious Trajectories over a Lifetime

Tracking Religious Trajectories over a Lifetime

(p.65) Four Tracking Religious Trajectories over a Lifetime
From Politics to the Pews

Michele F. Margolis

University of Chicago Press

Chapter 4 offers the first empirical test of the life-cycle theory by showing how partisanship affects religious trajectories over long periods of time. Using both two sets of panel data, the chapter demonstrates two broad trends. First, external political events that happen in childhood that are known to affect the development of party identification are also correlated with religiosity in adulthood. Individuals who came of age politically during a time when the Democrats were electorally popular are less likely to attend church regularly and more likely not to identify with a specific religion than those who came of age when the Republicans were electorally popular. Second, partisan identities exert influence at a specific point in a person’s life. Specifically, partisanship affects religious decisions among those individuals moving from being unmarried and childless to starting a family. This is precisely when, after a natural hiatus from religion, most people are confronted with a decision about whether and how to renew their religious involvement.

Keywords:   religion and politics, socialization, panel data, “God gap”, morality politics, Ronald Reagan, Religious Right

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