Born-again movements' influence on political attitudes

19 Jan 2018 - 11:45

Erin Hern, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Economy at the College of Idaho, presented the January 18 Institute seminar on her work on the influence of born-again Christian movements on political attitudes. Since the 1980s, Pentecostal and other born again Christian movements have become increasingly prominent in the public spheres of many sub-Saharan African states. A dearth of reliable survey data has constrained investigation of the potential influence of these religious movements on political attitudes and participation. This research analyzes original survey data from Zambia, a majority-Christian nation. The data, from a stratified random sample of 1,500-Zambians, indicates that Pentecostals do in fact share partisan preferences, and report higher levels of political interest and participation than other Christians. They are less likely, however, to contact elected officials – a finding that accords with ethnographic accounts of Pentecostal pastors as political interlocutors for their politically mobilized congregations. We further contextualize and explore the external validity of our findings by exploring cross-national data from the Pew Forum (2010, N=9,500).