Politics and Religion


Do Latino Christians and Seculars Fit the Culture War Profile? Latino Religiosity and Political Behavior

Troy Gibsona1 c1 and Christopher Hare c1

a1 The University of Southern Mississippi


This article examines the effect of religious affiliation and depth of religious commitment on the political behavior of Catholic Latinos, evangelical Latinos, and secular/unaffiliated Latinos. The culture war theory connects theological conservatism with political conservatism, but because prior research shows that minority groups often have alternate experiences with churches that place religious doctrine and teachings in varying political contexts, it is not clear that Latinos fit the culture war profile. We find that religious tradition and church attendance have an additive but differing impact on ideological and partisan identification as well as various policy preferences on social issues where culture war religious divisions are usually found (abortion, gay marriage, death penalty, and support for Israel) and other non-social issues (universal healthcare and taxing and spending). We find that religiosity has the greatest effect on the political behavior of evangelical Latinos, followed by secular/unaffiliated Latinos and committed Latino Catholics, and that religious tradition is largely consistent in moving evangelical Latinos to the political right and secular/unaffiliated Latinos to the political left.


c1 Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Troy Gibson, University of Southern Mississippi, Department of Political Science, International Development, and International Affairs, 118 College Drive #5108, Hattiesburg, MS 39406. E-mail: troy.gibson@usm.edu; or Christopher Hare, University of Georgia, Department of Political Science, 104 Baldwin Hall, Athens, GA 30602. E-mail: chare@uga.edu

Troy Gibson is an Associate Professor of Political Science, International Development and International Affairs, at The University of Southern Mississippi. His research interests include Religion and Politics, Political Theology, Public Policy, and American Political Behavior.

Christopher Hare is a Ph.D. Student in the Department of Political Science at the University of Georgia. His research interests include political behavior, religion and politics, and measurement theory.


An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 2010 annual meeting of the Southern Political Science Association. We thank Geoffrey Layman and the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions for revision.