Religion in the Legislative Arena: Affiliation, Salience, Advocacy, and Public Policymaking



Religion is a complex and multidimensional phenomenon that informs politics in various ways. This article examines the effects of religious affiliation, religious salience, and religious group advocacy on roll-call voting in the Wisconsin state legislature. Various studies have demonstrated the impact of religious affiliation on legislative politics, but our use of additional religious indicators allows us to model the religious effect in a more accurate and nuanced manner. Using data from an original survey of state legislators, we utilized structural equation modeling to measure the direct and indirect effects of these religious factors on both the general pattern of roll-call voting and voting on a high-salience issue, abortion. Ultimately, the findings indicate that, even when we control for political party affiliation, which is a dominant influence on roll-call voting, conservative Protestant religious affiliation and high religious salience influence legislative voting. We conclude with a discussion of the implications for future studies of religion in the legislative arena.