I love what 60 years of economics envy have done to the social sciences.
Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal – Bar Joke
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.
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.