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Shades of Faith: Religious Foundations of Political Attitudes among African Americans, Latinos, and Whites


  • Brian D. McKenzie is Assistant Professor of Government and Politics, University of Maryland, 3140 Tydings Hall, College Park, MD 20742 ( Stella M. Rouse is Assistant Professor of Government and Politics and Research Fellow at the Center for American Politics and Citizenship, University of Maryland, 3140 Tydings Hall, College Park, MD 20742 (

  • Both authors contributed equally to this article, thus names appear in alphabetical order. We thank James Garand, Eric McDaniel, Kathleen Bratton, Sylvia Manzano, Karen Kaufmann, Ted Jelen, Jim Gimpel, and the participants of the American Politics Workshop at the University of Maryland for their helpful suggestions on earlier versions of this article. Comments from the AJPS editor, Rick K. Wilson, and three anonymous reviewers significantly improved this project. Rouse acknowledges financial support from the Ford Foundation and from the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Gender in the Social Sciences at Duke University, where she spent the 2010 academic year as a Post-Doctoral Fellow. To obtain a copy of the data for replication, please go to


Although there is considerable evidence that religion influences political opinions, it is unclear how this story plays out across different segments of the U.S. population. Utilizing the 2000 Religion and Politics Survey, we examine the effects of religious beliefs, behaviors, and affiliations on citizens’ attitudes relating to issues of egalitarianism. Our study is one of the few to comparatively analyze the link between religious measures and political outlooks for the nation's three largest ethno-racial groups. The findings show that conservative Christianity is consistently associated with less tolerant and less egalitarian views among whites. Religious African Americans and Latinos, however, hold more equitable opinions about disadvantaged individuals. To further strengthen our arguments, we also replicate these results using the 2008 American National Election Study. Overall, we demonstrate that a single perspective on religion and public opinion does not apply to all groups.