by Ryan P. Burge, Eastern Illinois University
I was browsing a political science message board a few years ago and an anonymous poster commented that he/she wondered why those who study religion and politics think it’s somehow special compared to other group based identities. I am always trying to be aware of blind spots in my own thinking, so that argument has stuck with me. I think I have constructed a rebuttal. Put simply, religion is not an identity in the way that race/ethnicity is an identity because religion is a choice. It’s not immutable or unchangeable. While someone may grow up evangelical, they can choose to leave that identity at some point in their life (and many do). Others are born into a faith and never leave. That’s something that doesn’t really exist in other contexts.
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