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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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Faithful Partisans: A Closer Look at African Americans

Faithful Partisans: A Closer Look at African Americans

(p.147) Seven Faithful Partisans: A Closer Look at African Americans
From Politics to the Pews

Michele F. Margolis

University of Chicago Press

Chapter 7 tests the life-cycle theory on African Americans and explores the political consequences of their unique constellation of identities—as both ardent Democrats and frequent churchgoers. Because African-American religious traditions are frequently consistent with Democratic economic messages, African Americans may not feel pressure to update their religious or political attachments in the same way that white Americans might. We should therefore expect that the life-cycle theory will have different implications for African Americans. Whereas African Americans should undergo similar religious life-cycle experiences—decreasing religiosity in young adulthood and then increasing religious involvement in adulthood—they should not necessarily feel that their religious and political leanings are in conflict. Empirical tests bear out these expectations. The chapter then considers the political consequences of African Americans' religious and political attachments. The results from two experiments show that although African Americans are comfortable with religion and politics mixing, as one might expect from a highly religious group, they are not open to this mix when Republicans are doing the mixing. This occurs because the political values valorized in black Protestantism differ from those emphasized by religious denominations and groups associated with the Republican Party.

Keywords:   religion and politics, African Americans, survey experiments, panel data, cross-sectional data, the black church

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