Politics and Religion


Religion's Impact on the Divergent Political Attitudes of Evangelical Protestants in the United States and Brazil

Erin S. McAdamsa1 c1 and Justin Earl Lancea1 c1

a1 Presbyterian College


In the United States, Evangelical Protestants' political attitudes have been attributed to their conservative theological beliefs. As this religion's membership has increased around the world, other Evangelicals would logically be expected to demonstrate a similar conservatism in their political views. And yet, this anticipated result does not hold. In Brazil, for example, Evangelicals maintain moderate-to-liberal attitudes on several issues. To address this anomaly, this article relies on the Pew Forum's Multi-Country Religion Survey to examine the impact of religion on Evangelicals' ideology as well as attitudes on moral and economic issues in the United States and Brazil. While doctrinal orthodoxy predicts Evangelicals' moral conservatism, neither religious component examined significantly predicts Brazilian Evangelicals' ideology or economic attitudes. Significant differences in Brazilian and American attitudes on these dimensions in general suggest that the political environment plays a much larger role in whether — and how — religion influences these political attitudes.

Erin S. McAdams is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Presbyterian College. Her research focuses on American public opinion, political behavior and religion and politics in the United States.

Justin Earl Lance is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Presbyterian College. His research interests include Latin American politics and political economy, with an emphasis on Brazil, as well as African politics and third world development.