When Politicians Determine Your Religious Beliefs

When Politicians Determine Your Religious Beliefs

By Michele Margolis     July 11, 2018

Ms. Margolis is the author of “From Politics to the Pews: How Partisanship and the Political Environment Shape Religious Identity.”

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At first glance, President Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court would seem a perfect reminder of why so many religious white Americans vote Republican: to promote conservative moral values. Religious values. Their values. The values that — the story goes — devout white Protestants and Catholics want to see in Washington.

As it turns out, that narrative has it partly backward. It’s not just that our religious beliefs affect our politics — it’s that our politics affect our religious choices. We don’t just take cues about politics from our pastors and priests; we take cues about religion from our politicians.

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