Using Sermons to Study Religions’ Influence on Political Behavior

Gwyneth McClendon, Rachel Beatty Riedl

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The effects of religion on political behavior are difficult to study for a number of reasons. One difficulty is that “religion” is not a singular entity and is thus unlikely to have a unidirectional effect on political behavior. Another difficulty is that everyone in a particular place and time might be embedded in the same set of religious practices, such that the counterfactual is difficult to assess. In response to these and other challenges, we suggest opening up the black box of religion in order to examine the influence of its component parts. Specifically, we focus on exposure to sermons. We describe a study about the impact of Christian sermons in sub-Saharan Africa on reactions to inequality. We discuss the approach’s advantages and limitations and discuss how to integrate it with the study of other aspects of religion and how the approach might apply to other domains of political behavior.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)779-822
    Number of pages44
    JournalComparative Political Studies
    Issue number5
    StatePublished - Apr 2021


    • African politics
    • religion and politics

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science


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