Study: Pastors are More Partisan Than Their Congregations

Veronica Neffinger | iBelieve Contributor | Updated: Jun 14, 2017

Study: Pastors are More Partisan Than Their Congregations

An extensive new study indicates that religious leaders tend to be more partisan in their politics than their congregations.

The Atlantic reports that Eitan Hersh, an assistant professor of political science at Yale, worked alongside Gabrielle Malina, a doctoral student at Harvard, to conduct the extensive amount of research needed for the study.

Hersh and Malina searched the websites of 40 denominations to gather a list of religious leaders. They then matched these leaders’ names with their political affiliations.

Their research didn’t stop there, however. Hersh and Malina then compared their findings from the original research to findings of a separate study which looked at the religious affiliations of members of various denominations.

From this research, Hersh and Malina were able to conclude that, while pastors, ministers, and rabbis may not be explicitly telling their congregants who to vote for, many definitely do have strong political beliefs that are expressed in more subtle ways.

Hersh and Malina expected to find that the political views of congregations of more traditionally strict denominations--such as Orthodox Jews or conservative Baptists--would be more in line with their leaders’ political views.

But, surprisingly, this is not what the researchers found.

“Instead, they discovered that religious leaders generally tend to be more partisan than their congregants, including those on either end of the ideological spectrum. Not only that: Religious leaders’ denominational affiliations seem to shape their political leanings in a way that’s not the case for their congregants,” notes The Atlantic.

To see an interesting chart constructed by Hersh and Malina, showcasing the intersection of religious leaders’ political affiliation with their respective denominations, click here.


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Publication date: June 14, 2017

Study: Pastors are More Partisan Than Their Congregations