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Abstract

Religious communities are important sources of bridging and bonding social capital that have varying implications for perceptions of social cohesion in rural areas. In particular, as well as cultivating cohesiveness more broadly, the bridging social capital associated within mainline religious communities may represent an especially important source of support for the social integration of new immigrant groups. Although the bonding social capital associated with evangelical communities is arguably less conducive to wider social cohesion, it may prompt outreach work by those communities, which can enhance immigrant integration. This article examines these assumptions by exploring the relationship between mainline and evangelical religious communities, immigration, and residents' perceptions of social cohesion in rural areas in England. I model the separate and combined effects of religious communities and economic in-migration on social cohesion using multivariate statistical techniques. The analysis suggests that mainline Protestant communities enhance social cohesion in rural England, while evangelical communities do not. The social integration of immigrants appears to be more likely where mainline Protestant and Catholic communities are strong, but is unaffected by the strength of evangelical ones.