Jun 042015
While Stutgart is gearing up for the “Kirchentag”, a gathering of 100,000 Protestant laypeople, a poll by Infratest shows that only 41 per cent of the German population have at least “some” trust in what was once the state church in large parts of the country. And that is still not too bad, compared to the Catholic church, in which roughly one in five Germans puts “some” trust, while about one third of the population has “no trust whatsoever” in this outfit.

church ruin germany photo

Photo by gari.baldi Germany: The Two Institutions Even Less Trusted Than the Protestant Church are the Catholic Church and the Party System 2

But although church membership has rapidly declined over the last two decades and although about half of the population wants to curb the influence exercised by the churches, a change to the constitutionally enshrined status of the churches in Germany is not on the cards. In Stuttgart, politicians from all across the political spectrum will cosy up to priests and lay activists, maintaining the neo-corporatist illusion that this constitutes a dialogue between politics and society. Meanwhile, the only institution that is deemed as similarly untrustworthy as the Catholic church is the party system.

Source: Deutschlandtrend: Nur jeder Zehnte will stärkere Kirchen – DIE WELT

Jan 202009
Does religion make you a better or worse human being? More specifically, does Christian religiosity reduce or increase the likelihood of a radical/extreme right vote in a West European context? This is the question Liz and I are trying to address in our latest paper on “Christian Religiosity and Voting for West European Radical Right Parties“.

There are a number of reasons why good Christians could be more likely to vote for the Right than agnostics: American research starting in the 1940s has linked high levels of church attendance and a closed belief systems to support for rightism. More over, contemporary Radical Right parties try to frame the issue of immigration in terms of a struggle between Christian/Western values and Islam.

On the other hand, many of the most radical parties (e.g. the Austrian FPÖ) have anti-clerical roots. Moreover, the Churches give support and shelter to refugees/immigrants in many countries, and some pro-immigrant movements are inspired by Christian values. Finally, religious voters are often firmly tied to Christian-Democratic parties and will therefore not be available for the Radical Right.

We develop a theoretical model that incorporates these mechanisms and use Structural Equation Modelling to test this model in eight countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Norway. As it turns out, religious people do not differ from their more agnostic compatriots in terms of their attitudes towards immigrants. They are, however, less likely to vote for the radical right because they often identify with Christian Democratic/Conservative parties. The final version of the paper will appear in West European Politics.

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