Religion in America has been rocked in recent decades by two societal shifts: the rise of Christian evangelicals as a right-wing political force, and the increasing number of people who decline to affiliate with any faith tradition.
New research presents evidence that these trends, usually discussed separately, are in fact related. It reports the rate at which people disassociate themselves from religion is higher in states where the Christian right exerts its political muscle.
"Religious attachments fade in the face of visible Christian right policy victories," writes a research team led by Denison University political scientist Paul Djupe. "There is clear evidence that people—probably those without strong relationships with houses of worship—use the Christian right as a proxy for religion as a whole, and discontinue their religious identities as a result."