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Keywords:

  • religion;
  • political attitudes;
  • political engagement;
  • conservative ideology;
  • social influence

Some argue that there is an organic connection between being religious and being politically conservative. We evaluate an alternative thesis that the relation between religiosity and political conservatism largely results from engagement with political discourse that indicates that these characteristics go together. In a combined sample of national survey respondents from 1996 to 2008, religiosity was associated with conservative positions on a wide range of attitudes and values among the highly politically engaged, but this association was generally weaker or nonexistent among those less engaged with politics. The specific political characteristics for which this pattern existed varied across ethno-religious groups. These results suggest that whether religiosity translates into political conservatism depends to an important degree on level of engagement with political discourse.