Religion and Politics: Survey Results

*I want to dedicate this post to every single person who completed my survey.  Your responses helped me test my hypotheses, and understand the relationship between religion and politics.  I am forever grateful to every single one of you.  Thank you.*

I started this study with the aim to analyze the connection between religious beliefs and political beliefs.  I was interested to see if the strength of one set of beliefs influenced the strength of the other.  This was my main hypothesis.  However, as I began compiling my survey, I became curious of other variables, and their effects.  Did age play a role?  What about gender?  If someone isn’t religious, does that impact which political party they most agree with?  Does different religious beliefs affect politics?  Does religious beliefs influence more conservative or more liberal beliefs?  And finally, does the amount of time one set of beliefs was held, impact the other?

I believed these variables would be statistically significant (important, statistically unique, different than normal).  I thought the stronger someone believed one set of beliefs, the stronger the other set of beliefs would be.  For example, I thought that if a Christian held very strong beliefs, they would also be a very strong, conservative Republican.  (This was based on prior observations and patterns.).  I thought age and gender played a role in each set of beliefs, but I was unsure to that role.  I thought the type of religious belief, be it religious or non-religious, would have an impact, but I was unsure what that was.  And I thought people that had beliefs from their family for one belief, would hold the other for the same reason.

Several prior studies influenced my knowledge prior to analyzing the results.  For example, a study conducted by Driskell, Embry, and Lyon (2008) suggested that religious beliefs about an involved God and many world issues are significantly related to political participation on a national scale (Driskell, Embry & Lyon).  Another study conducted by Evans (2014) concluded that religious people tend to disagree in terms of political policies, but they have the tendency to agree with the process of reaching those policies (Evans).  Friesen and Ksiazkiewicz (2015) concluded that society functions the best when people follow traditional values, and also was able to conclude that individuals tend to interpret religion as an important guide for one’s life (Friesen and Ksiazkiewicz).  Fitzgerald and Wickwire (2012) were able to conclude that people of specific religious and political groups tend to favor, or express more trust towards others of the same groups (Fitzgerald and Wickwire).  Finally, Meyer, Tope, and Price (2008) concluded that nations of people who tend to be strongly religious are less favorable towards democracy (Meyer, Top & Price).

A total of 193 people responded to my survey.  However, of the responses, 20 responses were discarded.  These responses did not meet all the criteria, such as being 18 or older, or not providing all information.  (All the surveys were completed.  However, 18 of the 20 responses chose not to specify their religious affiliation.  This was an optional spot, but was a factor I was interested in examining.). I chose 18 as the minimal age, because in America, that is the age when teenagers are allowed to vote.  The vast majority of participants were female and between the ages of 18-30.

Of the participants who identified as religious, the vast majority specified their beliefs as “Christian” (non-denominational/ denominational).  However, I also received responses such as “Catholic”, “Spiritual”, “Norse”, “Methodist”, “Mennonite”, “Christo-pagan”, “Baptist”, “Lutheran”, “Jewish”, “Former Mormon”, and even “Catholic with Celtic beliefs”.  Of those that identified as non-religious, the most common responses were “Agnostic” and “Atheist”.

Politically, I asked participants which political party they most aligned with, and then asked them to place themselves on a conservative/liberal scale.  I was interested to see if religious beliefs affected that ranking.

When gathering the responses, I was really focused on not getting a biased sample, such as too many millennials, or too many Christians, or too many Republicans, etc.  (Given where I live, those would have been the most likely biases.). So, I placed my survey on my Facebook page, and thus it was shared by many of my friends.  I also linked it in several of my blog posts.  Finally, I asked one of my previous professors to pass it out to his students.  The responses were kept completely anonymous, apart from asking for age and gender.

I was expecting my sample to slightly biased, with more Republican Christians.  However, I was surprised to find that the split between Republican and Democrat beliefs to be rather equal.

When I had finished analyzing my results, I was disappointed to find my hypotheses were generally not statistically significant. *I’ll apologize here: I seem to have deleted the file with all my graphs and whatnot.  So, unfortunately, I am unable to share with you any of the visual data.*. The strength between religious beliefs and political beliefs was not statistically significant. (For those of you interested, r=-.087.). This was fascinating to me, as I could see participants of similar religious beliefs rating the strength of that belief very high, but then ranking their political beliefs differently and opposite ends of the spectrum.  Also, I saw many responses where on set of beliefs was ranked high, and the other was ranked low.

The effects between “religious and political beliefs” and “gender” were not statistically significant, and neither was the interaction between them.  This was interesting, because based on previous patterns and observations, I expected females to be more religious, but also slightly more liberal.

When I analyzed the interaction between “religious beliefs”, “political beliefs”, and “age”, the interaction was not statistically significant.  However, when I analyzed the main effect of “religious beliefs” on “age”, this was statistically significant.  (For those interested, F (4, 170)= 2.76, p = .03, and h2 = 0.024.).

Finally, I analyzed the relationship between “religious beliefs” and “political beliefs”.  This correlation was mildly statistically significant (r = .19 at p = .013).  This was interesting, because it demonstrated there is indeed a relationship between “religious beliefs” and “political beliefs”.

*Unfortunately, I did not quite get the chance to analyze all the varied variables I wanted to, such as the different types of beliefs against political beliefs, or how long those beliefs were held against the strength of the beliefs.  If I have the chance to re-do this study, I would fine tune the variables I want to explore.  I made the mistake of adding more and more “variables” as my study went on.  I didn’t start with a strict set of things to investigate, and I think that is why so many of potentially interesting insights were ignored.  I ran out of time, and to a degree, resources, thus negatively effecting the validity of my results.*

I think, overall, this study brings some really interesting things to light.  For example, I began to understand that the interpretation of religious texts is often more impactful than just the religious beliefs.  There were participants who were nearly identical in religious beliefs and in their belief strength (sometimes even in age and gender), but completely opposite in terms of political beliefs and conservative/liberal ranking.  (I may even be so bold as to say that it is this split in interpretation that is leading to the split in Christians today …… corresponding blog post to come …..)

Also, it is also possible that race, economic status, and living environment (rural, city, urban, etc.) further impact the relationship between religious and political beliefs.

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I had quite a lot of fun organizing this study, analyzing the results, and understanding real life applications.  It has opened the door to many other questions I would like to pursue, and may at some point.

I’d love to know your thoughts about these results.  Do you think there is a bigger connection between religious beliefs and political beliefs?  Or do you think it’s smaller?


 

religion-in-politics

Ciao for now,

Julia

P.S. I am interested in do a post on modesty, but from guys’ perspectives.  If you are a single, or yet unmarried Christian guy, I’d be honored if you’d fill out this short questionnaire.  Please pass it around to your friends! I will be giving credit where credit is due! Thank you!

Things I’m Learning….

This was not the post I had planned for today.  I have another one all but written, which I wanted to publish today.  But this afternoon, I got sucked into Facebook.   I’ve been trying very hard to stay off, with the intention of preserving my sanity.  But somehow, today,  I managed to immerse myself in all the political and opinionated corners of my Facebook feed.  I was getting angry and disheartened.  I was feeling (indirectly) offended and ridiculed.  I was ending up on profiles of people who have very opposite beliefs and ideologies than I do, and I was beginning to feel like my own beliefs were being attacked and belittled.  I was beginning to feel hopeless, and simply overwhelmed.

I’ve decided to place myself on a momentary Facebook ban.  Not because I don’t like my friends. Not because I want to hurt my friends. Not because I don’t respect their opinions.   But because it takes a very strong person to stay above the political disagreements and societal upheaval.  And right now, I can’t be that person.  I have to separate myself.  Though I will never be someone to engage with people over Facebook about politics, my mind and heart just can’t handle this fighting and protesting and name-calling and belittling.  I just can’t.

I’ve been learning several things through this political season, besides just the facts.  I’m learning how to live in a world that doesn’t agree with what I believe, and sometimes even violently disagrees with me.  I’m learning what it means to keep my head high, when names and abuses are thrown at me.  I’m learning what it truly means to trust God when everything seems like it’s falling apart.

I’m learning, that no matter how much I learn, there will always be people trying to prove me wrong.

I’m learning that truth, and the pursuit of, is dependent on perspective.  I’m learning that truth is as fleeting as snowflakes in my hand.  And I’m learning, that though truth is so important, there will always be people who try to hide it.

I’m learning, that unless my conversation partner is willing to (try to) understand where I’m coming from and why I believe the things I do, there’s no reason to have a conversation with that person.

I’m learning that tolerance goes two ways, and in order for someone to be tolerant towards me, I must first be tolerant towards them.  I’m also learning how cruel it is for people to only be tolerant when it agrees with them.

I’m learning that nothing is helped by only listening to one perspective, or one news outlet all the time.  I’m learning that truth (and facts) are covered in many outlets, and in many ways.  I’m learning that the whole story is never in one place.

I’m learning that, more than ever, my worth as a person is not dependent on my religious or political beliefs, gender, or race.  I’m learning with each passing day that particular agendas will only confine me to what they want me to be, based on those things.

I’m learning that open-mindedness can be seen as close-mindedness by people who don’t agree with me.

I’m learning that name calling is a defense mechanism, and many people cling to it like a safety blanket.

I’m learning that if I can’t be bold about something that is important to me when the time comes, then it must not have been that important to me in the first place.

I’m learning, like there are “seasons” in my life where God wants me to learn something, there are also “seasons” in my country’s life.  And these seasons, no matter in what caliber than occur, they are always in God’s control.  I’m learning that there is a time and a place for everything, even if it’s something other people don’t agree with.  It’s all for a purpose, and whether or not the outcome is something we like, it’s something God is taking care of.

I’m learning ignorance is a deadly and infectious virus, which is only curable when pride and arrogance is placed to the side.

I’m learning that celebrities are often a given platforms to speak, simply because they are a celebrity.  But I’m learning that when celebrities speak, they often aren’t qualified to speak on the things they insist on speaking about.

I’m learning that pushing political (and religious) agendas on people puts a sour taste in their mouths about that subject.

I’m learning blind compassion hurts more than it heals, and people will often take advantage of such compassion.

I’m learning there is nothing wrong with disagreeing, as long as you love and respect each other during and after the conversation.

I’m learning how lucky I am to be a woman, and how blessed I am to have the rights I do, when there are so many women around the world who have nowhere near the rights I do.

I’m learning that, yes, words can be bad.  But worse still are actions.

My parents have always told me this, but I’m learning how important it is to respond and not react.  There is a powerful difference between the two.  One makes you think through the situation, and choose your words and actions carefully.  The other is fueled by emotions and gut reactions.  One hurts while the other inspires meaningful conversations.

I’m learning that in order to strongly dislike a person, more must be disliked than just the appearance and surface-level superficial reasons.

I’m learning that if you are constantly up in arms over something, you will see it everywhere.

I’m learning it’s important to have what I believe challenged sometimes.  Like religious beliefs, my beliefs on life and politics are not supposed to be stagnate my whole life.

I’m learning that being a Christian is about being passionately in love, and worshipping God with all I am.  It’s not about just loving others, it isn’t just about Jesus, and it isn’t about my own glory and fame.  It is about God.  And I’m learning that being a Christian means that you will be ridiculed by others who cannot believe you’d put priority of an unseen being over your fellow man.

I’m learning people can be cruel when they’re disappointed, and let down, and when life doesn’t turn out their way.

I’m learning it doesn’t help any situation by celebrating the victory of one side, and using it as a smack in the face towards the other side.

I’m learning hypocrisy and assumptions are just as disastrous as ignorance.

I’m learning to feel strong and be great, one must first feel weak and overwhelmed.  For it is through the fire that diamonds are made.

I’m learning that it is foolish to place our lofty and unattainable expectations on people and governments who are completely incapable of attaining those expectations.

I’m learning it is okay to be hopeful and have faith, even if everyone tells you there is nothing to be positive about.

Perception tree.png

Ciao for now,

Julia