Notes from the Politics and Religion Section Chair: 2018 MPSA Conference

By Allyson Shortle, University of Oklahoma

As this year’s Politics & Religion (P&R) section head for the Midwest Political Science Association meeting, I was able to take a closer look at the work that pushes our field forward at the intersection of politics and religion, informing our understanding of institutions, behavior, and theory. After reading through an extensive amount of research proposals I received in October, I put together a set of panels that will interest anybody who is puzzled by religion’s influence on national and international political landscapes. These panels will also interest those who might alternatively be puzzled by politics’ potential influence on religion.

There are several panels this year that highlight emerging trends of P&R research. The first noteworthy addition is a fascinating set of studies that use experimental and psychological approaches to examine religion’s impact on political attitudes. This panel highlights a push some scholars of P&R have made over the last decade to incorporate more diverse methodological techniques into our analyses covering a dynamic range of topics, from Black feminism to religious intolerance. Also new to the P&R section is an interesting panel on secularism and religious “nones.” These papers use historical, comparative, and American frameworks for examining irreligious and unaffiliated individuals as well as institutional structures. A panel on civil religion further allows American and comparative scholars to engage in each other’s work. The panels on secularism and civil religion reflect an important goal for us—to speak to each other when examining the same concepts and processes in different contexts. Last, but certainly not least, there is a panel on religion and voter behavior this year, with several papers dedicated to explaining how religion influenced support for Donald Trump in 2016. These papers offer frameworks to unpack religion’s broad reach on voting outcomes in American elections, while addressing a major puzzle posed by several scholars regarding Trump’s success with white evangelicals. There are many more impressive works to look out for at this year’s MPSA conference. For a full list of P&R papers/panels, please see below.

I hope to see you in Chicago!

Note: The Midwest Political Science Association meeting will be taking place from Wednesday, April 4th to Sunday, April 8th in Chicago, IL at the Palmer House Hilton.

Allyson Shortle is an assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma. Her research focuses on issues of identity within the context of American political behavior. She publishes in journals such as Political Behavior, American Politics Research, Politics and Religion, and the Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Politics.

MPSA Religion and Politics Panels, 2018

Thursday, April 5th

9:45 AM- 11:15 AM: “Secularism and Religious Nones”

  • Political Issue Variation within the Nones, Peter W. Wielhouwer, Western Michigan University
  • The Socio-Politics of Resistance to Secular Rule: The Case of Iran, 1905-1941, A. Farid Tookhy, Georgetown University
  • What Predicts Religious Politicking Cross-Nationally? Unpacking Secularization Theory, Emma Rosenberg, University of Notre Dame, and Amy Erica Smith, Iowa State University

4:45 PM- 6:15PM: “Religiously Inspired Policy and Its Effects”

  • Does Government Funding of Religion Promote or Repress Civic Engagement? The Case of Ultra-Orthodox Women in Israel, Noa Josepha Cnaan-On, Duke University
  • Abortion Laws in Poland: Pro-Life Movements, the Catholic Church, and Christian Democratic Party in the Policy Making Process, Dawid Tatarczyk, Western Michigan University
  • Religion and tradition in the school environment: an analysis of educational policies in Ireland and England, Tarcisio Amorim Amorim, University College Dublin
  • The Roman Catholic Church as a Catalyst for or Destructive Influence on National Identity, Lawrence C. (Christopher) Reardon, University of New Hampshire
  • Official Disobedience and Fidelity to Conscience: The Case of Kim Davis, Mary C. Segers, Rutgers University Newark


Friday, April 6th

9:45 AM- 11:15 AM: “Religion and Identities”

  • Religious Cross-Pressures and Political Attitudes: the Case of Anglo and Latino Catholics, Alvaro Jose Corral, The College of Wooster
  • Belief in God and Government: The Politics of Secularism in Latino Communities, Andre Pierre Audette, Monmouth College, and Juan Angel Valdez, University of Notre Dame
  • The Politics of Libertarian Jews, Herb Weisberg, The Ohio State University
  • The Original “God Gap”: Mainline Protestant Religiosity and Support for Civil Rights in the 1960s, John W. Compton, Chapman University
  • Latinas, Religiosity, and Political Engagement, Mirya R. Holman, Tulane University, Heather Silber Mohamad, Clark University, and Erika Podrazik, Tulane University


11:30AM- 1:00 PM: “JSS: International and Historical Frameworks of Religion and Politics”

  • Islamic Legal Schools and Maritime Trade: Explaining Mass Conversion to Islam Across the Indian Ocean in 12th Century CE, Yusri Supiyan, University of Washington
  • Faith in Conquest: The Politics of Catholic Conversion and Colonialism, Aditi Rajeev Shirodkar, University of Chicago


11:30 AM- 1:00 PM: “The 2016 Election and Beyond: Religion and Voting Behavior”

  • Religion, Race, Economics, and Support for Trump, Dan Hofrenning, St. Olaf College
  • Religious Voting in the 2016 Presidential Election, James L. Guth, Furman University
  • The President and His Faithful: Explaining White Evangelical Support for Trump, Beverly Ann Gaddy, University of Pittsburgh
  • The Strategic Religious Voter, Baodong Liu, University of Utah, and Laura R. Olson, Clemson University
  • Religious Belonging and the 2016 Presidential Election, David Searcy, Southern Illinois University Carbondale


3:00 PM- 4:30 PM: “Civil Religion and the Convergence of God and Nation”

  • Christian Nationalism and Anti-immigration Attitudes in the Trump Era, Eric L. McDaniel, Irfan Nooruddin, and Allyson F. Shortle
  • Invoking the Founders: American Civil Religion and Public Opinion, Stephen Mockabee, University of Cincinnati, and Quin Monson, Brigham Young University
  • Models of Religion and Nationalism: Greece and Israel, Chris Soper, Pepperdine University
  • Religious Nationalist States: Search for a Family Resemblance, Raja Muhammad Ali Saleem, Forman Christian College


4:45 PM to 6:15 PM: “Religion and Tolerance”

  • We are the People (they are not): A Cross-Country Analysis of Varieties of Populist-Religious Discourse, Sultan Tepe, Michael Cameron Dirksen, and Mine Tafolar, University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Political Context and Support for Religious Freedom Legislation in the States, Andrew Ryan Lewis, University of Cincinnati
  • Kurds as New Emerging Actor in the Middle East, Ripu Sudan Singh, Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University
  • Promoting Religious Tolerance in the Age of Trump: Can Georgia Public Schools Encourage Increased Respect for Religious Diversity?, Emile Lester, University of Mary Washington

Saturday, April 7th

8:00 AM- 9:30 AM: “Addressing Critical Questions in Religious Thought and the Study of Religion”

  • The Presence of Religion in Politics, Carlos Alberto Baena Lopez, Political Party MIRA
  • Lutheran Reformation and the Law: The Reformation’s Impact on Constitutional Theory, Tamas Deak-Bardos, Heidelberg University
  • Growing U.S. Secularization: Implications for American Exceptionalism and Political Polarization from a Tocquevillian Perspective, Dorothea Israel Wolfson, John Hopkins University
  • Not Quite Secular: Montesquieu on the Political Utility of Faith, Michael Giles, Michigan State University


1:15 PM to 2:45 PM: “Global Influences on the Connection Between Religion and Politics”

  • The Ambivalence of Islamist Populism: Democratic Opening or a New Form of Authoritarianism?, Buket Oztas, Furman University
  • No Exit? Religion and the Politics of Emigration, Nikola Mirilovic, University of Central Florida


3:00 PM- 4:30 PM: “JSS: Religion and Theory”

  • Tocqueville, Religious Liberty, and the Nexus of Freedom, Robert John Burton, University of Notre Dame
  • The American Crusade: A Study in the Religion of the American Revolution, Lynette Grundvig, Hillsdale College
  • Thomas Aquinas’s Flexible Natural Law: The Will of God and Political Action, Sarah J. Onken, Hillsdale College
  • Grasping the Apocalyptic Appeal: Machiavelli’s Treatment of the Savonarolan Movement, Andrew P. Gibson, University of Chicago


4:45 PM- 6:15 PM: “Ideologies and Attitudes of Religious Publics”

  • Partisan Pastor: The Politics of 130,000 American Religious Leaders, Gabrielle Malina, Eitan Hersh, Harvard University
  • Mapping the Political Ideology of the Catholic Church, Jonathan Day, Western Illinois University
  • Understanding Religiosity and American Public Opinion Toward Global Warming, 2006-2013, Wanyan Shao, Auburn University Montgomery, Angela McCarthy Louisiana State University
  • Class, Social Threat, and Trumpism: The Evolution of the Christian Right, Kimberly H. Conger, University of Cincinnati

Sunday, April 8th

8:00 AM- 9:30 AM: “Experimental and Psychological Approaches to Religion and Politics”

  • Do the Sheep Follow the Shepherds? A Survey Experiment on Elite Cues, Jason Michael Adkins, University of Wisconsin Parkside
  • Religious Intolerance and Political Decisions, Sultan Tepe and Zahra Keshwani, University of Illinois Chicago
  • The Religion of Social Dominance: How Religion and SDO Shape Political Attitudes, Paul A. Djupe and Jason Wesseling, Denison University
  • The Black Feminist Bible Study: Results from Two Quasi Experiments, Dilara K. Uskup, University of Chicago


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