Sociology, Department of


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Published in Review of Religious Research 47:2 (2005), 150-161. Published by the Religious Research Association;


Many churchgoing Protestants support a highly political role for the Christian religion, endorsing Christian ideals shaping public policy. Highly educated Protestants' emphasis on individualism and protecting civil liberties, however; can encourage a distrust of highly politicized Christianity. Specifically, college and graduate school educated Protestants often want to avoid forcing the Christian religion on secular society. Regression results from the 1996 Religious Identity and Influence Survey show that, among churchgoing Protestants, education is strongly and negatively correlated with supporting laws based on Christian doctrines. Highly educated Protestants are also less likely than high school educated Protestants to advocate Christians attempting to change society to reflect God's will, particularly because they feel they should not impose the Christian religion on society. With debates over issues such as same-sex marriage and the use of "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, Protestants' views of the proper relationship between Christianity and politics will help shape future policy decisions; and highly educated Protestants' views will be increasingly important as college education becomes the norm in the Protestant community. The results provide insights into the religious privatization of highly educated churchgoing Protestants in the United States as well as supporting the notion that with increased education comes at least partial support for one aspect of secularization--desacralization, or the separation of religion from other primary institutions, especially the state.

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