We revisit several longstanding controversies in the study of how religion affects political participation among Latinos, examining the influence of religious affiliation, church attendance, and involvement in the “ancillary” activities of the church on three types of participation: voting, community problem solving, and contacting public officials.


Data from the 2001 U.S. Congregational Life Survey and hierarchical methods are used to test a comprehensive model of religious influence.


We find that involvement in church small groups and other church-based activities that take place outside of the sanctuary hall consistently affect all political activities. Importantly, performing a leadership role within the church, or taking part in some other skill-building activity only affects our nonelectoral form of participation for Latinos, but boosts participation across the board in the full sample.


Our study lends some much-needed empirical confirmation to associational theories of political participation, but also sounds a note of caution about the universal applicability of such theories.