Who's Right About the Right? Comparing Competing Explanations of the Link Between White Evangelicals and Conservative Politics in the United States

Authors


Correspondence should be addressed to Steven Brint, College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, University of California–Riverside, Riverside, CA 92521-0132. E-mail: steven.brint@ucr.edu

Abstract

Five competing explanations for why white evangelicals hold right-of-center political attitudes are examined using data from the 2000–2004 National Election Studies. Dependent variables include attitudes about abortion, homosexuality, immigration, national defense, and social spending. The five competing explanations accounting for conservative positions are: religiosity, moral standards traditionalism, gender and family ideology, class culture, and cultural geography. Moral standards traditionalism attenuated the evangelical effect on attitudes about abortion, homosexuality, and social spending. Religiosity and male-dominant gender ideology attenuated the effect on abortion and homosexuality only. In a second set of models, which include members of all major religious groups, these three variables, together with low levels of education, were significantly associated with conservative attitudes. Moral standards traditionalism demonstrated the most consistent, and generally the strongest, effects across dependent variables.

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