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From the Pews to Policy: Specifying Evangelical Protestantism's Influence on States' Sexual Orientation Policies

Christopher P. Scheitle and Bryanna B. Hahn
Social Forces
Vol. 89, No. 3 (March 2011), pp. 913-933
Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41290094
Page Count: 21
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From the Pews to Policy: Specifying Evangelical Protestantism's Influence on States' Sexual Orientation Policies
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Abstract

It is often assumed that the religious culture of a state can shape policies within the state, particularly concerning morality issues such as abortion or homosexuality. However, the precise manner in which religion shapes these policies has not been clearly specified. Drawing from social movements and policy literature, we argue that the influence of a state's level of evangelical adherence is mediated through mechanisms such as interest groups, issue salience, popular opinion and the political composition of the state government. We assess this theoretical model using data on states' laws regarding sexual orientation. The analysis shows that, as expected, a state's level of evangelical adherence does not have a direct effect on its policies concerning sexual orientation. However, evangelical adherence does have an indirect influence on those policies through mediating mechanisms.

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