Faith and Politics: The Influence of Religious Beliefs on Political Participation


  • *Direct correspondence to Robyn Driskell, Department of Sociology, Baylor University, One Bear Pl. #97326, Waco, TX 76798-7326. She will provide all data and coding materials to those wishing to replicate the study. The authors thank the anonymous referees for their comments.


Objective. The relationship between religion and political participation has not been rigorously investigated, typically employing only basic measures of church attendance or denomination. In this study, we utilize precise measures of various religious behaviors, traditions, and beliefs to examine their influence on political participation.

Methods. Using data from the Baylor Religion Survey 2005, we demonstrate that merely including measures of church attendance or denomination camouflages much of religion's influence on political participation.

Results. We find that religious beliefs are significantly related to national political participation. For religious activities, identifying with a religious tradition reduces participation, but participation in church activities increases political participation.

Conclusion. Different types of religious beliefs influence political participation differently. Although some macro religious beliefs significantly increase macro political behavior, believers in an involved God are less likely to participate politically. Individualistic, micro beliefs have no affect on national politics. Thus, the scope of the religious belief fits with the scope of the political activity, in that more macro concerns translate to national political participation.