MU researcher finds religion continues to affect voting

Friday, April 22, 2011 | 7:23 p.m. CDT; updated 6:31 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, April 26, 2011

COLUMBIA — Results of an MU study show continued ties between religion and politics internationally. 

Chris Raymond, an MU doctoral candidate studying political science, has spent more than two years comparing national election studies in Great Britain, Germany and the United States from the 1960s and early 2000s, and he found religiosity has played a persistent role for voters.

"Religious people tend to favor the right, and secular individuals tend to vote for the left," Raymond said. "Literature has previously argued this is no longer the case, but in fact, it still is."

Raymond initially became interested in the topic after being raised in a politically active and religious household.

Raymond said literature had originally indicated British voters tend to vote along class lines, not along religious lines. Although class is still number one, he said religion is a close second.

"The fact that religion was at the top or near the top level of importance among social groups was a bit surprising," Raymond said. "Out of all the social group identities that matter for voting, class and religion are persistently near the top."

Although not addressed in his research, he said other research has found that religious individuals have a higher voter turnout and become involved in religious social issues, such as abortion.

"Just by attending religious services, individuals become exposed to messages that have political messages to them, intended or not," Raymond said. "The literature argues you are exposed to certain messages and politicized world views."

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Polly Brown April 23, 2011 | 8:28 a.m.

Oh, come on, be realistic. Religious people do not need to be "exposed" to ideas at religious services. They do not follow suggestions like sheep. Strong religious beliefs are very much a part of the person. Such beliefs effect many if not all areas of a believer's life.

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