Religion and Gender Politics: The Impact of Religion on Women and Gender Attitudes
Cameron Cowger, Derrick Williams, and JB Norcott
There has been a rapid change and influx in new ideas and issues in the political arena. Politicians must understand that there is a rank of importance on issues in our modern society and it is intrinsically influenced by religion. Religion is a strong indicator in assessing voting behavior and how citizens perceive specific issues such as reproductive rights, women’s rights, economic equality, homosexuality, and even how men and women think about these issues differently. This study explains the effects of religion on voter’s attitudes towards women’s rights and gender equality issues. The results from a 2016 ANES Pilot study, which sought to discover preferences in the presidential primary, stereotyping, the economy, discrimination, race and racial consciousness, police use of force, and numerous policy issues, indeed showed a direct correlation between religion and voting behavior and a dissimilarity between women and men’s political views.
The sphere of politics continues to act as a major guide in modern American politics. Since the nineteenth century, religion has been a polarizing feature in politics and has even created dependency for political decisions. Indirectly, religion has manifested into political allegiances. Although there are constant debates on the ethno-cultural, social strata and economic influence on cultural conflicts, religion provides a comprehensive interpretation on cultural conflicts, especially gender equality and women’s rights.
Despite the prohibition of the church and state, politicians rarely separate the two spheres. For example, in media, we often hear about political leaders hosting religious figureheads or saying “God Bless America” or soliciting prayers for victims of disasters. Essentially, these are all extolments of religious values. Such advocacy of religion is caused by a moral majority that has pushed political agendas and has even injected religion in political debates. Consequently, the influence of religion, or lack thereof, could potentially affect voting behavior of citizens. It is apparent that overtime different religious groups have made opinions on issues like homosexuality, gender issues, abortion, and socioeconomic equality. The research group wanted to evaluate the variation of opinions on important political matters to understand if religion is a major influence on voter preference and if it appears to shape how voters see the world around them. In search of explaining the role of religion in American politics, this study examines the relationship of cultural divisions, voting preferences, and religiosity.
Our hypothesis stems from two theoretical approaches. The first hypothesis involves the effect of religion on voters. We believe that the more religious a person is the less likely they are to vote on pro-women’s rights and choice issues. This centers around voter’s support for women’s right and choice issues in correlation to their religiosity. Our second hypothesis examines the difference in men and women. Women will be more likely to support women’s and prochoice rights than men regardless of religiosity. This centers around the belief that, while religion may have a strong influence on voters, gender is the predominant influence on attitudes towards gender related issues. While these two approaches are dissimilar, we will prove the correlation of religion and the increased focus on social and moral policy issues.
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