Political Behavior

, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 155-180

First online:

Acts of Faith: Churches and Political Engagement

  • David E. CampbellAffiliated withDepartment of Political Science, 217 O'Shaughnessy Hall, University of Notre Dame

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Many observers suggest that white evangelical Protestant churches serve to mobilize their members into politics, while others argue that they encourage withdrawal from political life. This paper reconciles these two claims. I hypothesize that the time members of evangelical Protestant denominations spend in service to their church comes at the expense of participation in the wider community, contrary to the way mainline Protestant and Catholic churches foster civic activity among their members. However, I further hypothesize that the tight social networks formed through this intensive church activity can at times facilitate rapid and intense political mobilization. Data from the Citizen Participation Study supports the first hypothesis, while applying King's method of ecological inference to two elections in Alabama supports the second.

Political participation churches religion and politics