“When Politicians Determine Your Religious Beliefs” by Michele Margolis, New York Times, 7/11/18.
Michele Margolis is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of “From Politics to the Pews: How Partisanship and the Political Environment Shape Religious Identity.”
… a key fact: Most Americans choose a political party before choosing whether to join a religious community or how often to attend religious services.
Faith often becomes a peripheral concern in adolescence and young adulthood — precisely the years when we tend to form stable partisan attachments. Religion typically becomes relevant again later, after we have children and start to think about their religious upbringings. By that time, our political views are set, ready to guide our religious values and decisions.
…I find that twentysomething Democrats and Republicans were equally secular: Most had pulled away from religion after high school, and Democrats and Republicans did so at similar rates. But nine years later, Republicans had become much more likely to attend church than their Democratic counterparts. In contrast, even those who bucked the secular trend and remained religious in their 20s were no more likely than less religious members of their cohort to join the Republican ranks in their 30s.
…In other words, those who were already Republican sought out kindred political spirits at church, while Democrats opted to spend their Sundays elsewhere.