Saturday, October 25, 2008

Religiosity vs. brand of Christianity: The General Social Survey asked white Christians about their brand of religion--fundamentalist, moderate, or liberal--their frequency of church attendance, and their choice of presidential candidate in 2004. Here are the results of voting for Bush regressed on the other two variables :

OLS unstandardized coefficients, N = 1,838

Liberal vs. fundamentalist -.098
Moderate vs. fundamentalist -.109
Frequency of church attendance .022
Constant 1.66

(all effects are statistically signficant at the .05 level, two-tail test)

So how are these numbers interpreted? Let's do it this way. The model can be used to predict the percentage who voted for Bush, given a set of characteristics. Here are four combinations:

Predicted percent voting for Bush

Fundamentalist, never attends 66.0
Fundemantalist, attends more than weekly 83.6
Liberal, never attends 56.3
Liberal, attends more than weekly 73.8

A fundamentalist Christian who never goes to church was less likely to vote for Bush than a liberal Christian who goes all the time.

There is much attention paid to the fundamentalist streak among Republicans, but less attention paid to the fact that many who vote Republican are moderate or liberal Christians who are serious about their religion. As is usually the case with religion, behavior is more important than status: whether you are fundamentalist are not is not as important as how devoted you are to your particular brand of Christianity.

Fundamentalists are a minority of Christian Republicans. To be precise, 62.2% of Christians who voted for Bush in 2004 were moderate or liberal believers.

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