Paul Djupe

I am a political scientist at Denison University specializing in religion and politics, social networks, and political behavior. I am an affiliated scholar with Public Religion Research Institute, the editor of the Religious Engagement in Democratic Politics series with Temple University Press. I was the coeditor of Politics & Religion (2011-2016). And I blog primarily for, but did for 538, the Monkey Cage, and others. 

Monkey Cage - How fights over Trump have led evangelicals to leave their churches

Jake Neiheisel, Anand Sokhey, and I discuss our forthcoming paper in AJPS that shows how disagreement over politics drives marginal members to leave their churches. 2016 provided fertile ground to extend that research and we find that disagreement over Trump provided the spur for some evangelicals to leave. This appeared at Monkey Cage blog and (in expanded version). How Will Obama Be Graded By History? (with Andy Lewis)

After eight years in office, Barack Obama will end his presidency on Friday. There has already been much talk of his accomplishments, failures and legacy, but it will take years or even decades for historians, political scientists, journalists and the American people to confidently assess his place among other American presidents. In the meantime (sorry, we’re impatient), what can we say about how history will judge Obama? [read more] Most People — And Perhaps Most Clergy — Don’t Want Political Endorsements In Church

At the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, President Trump made headlines by declaring that he would “totally destroy” a decades-old tax provision that prevents pastors and other religious leaders from endorsing political candidates. Some evangelical supporters have praised his statement, while opponents to the change are concerned that it signals an end to long-held provisions that ensure the separation of church and state. But even if the law is removed, churches and pastors may be unlikely to change how they engage politically — a majority of Americans don’t appear to want too much electoral politics in their church. We also have several surveys of clergy members showing the same thing. [read more]

MonkeyCage - When evangelical clergy oppose Trump, their flocks listen. But they’re not speaking up.

Although Donald Trump is doing less well among evangelicals than George W. Bush, John McCain or Mitt Romney did, analysts have suggested that many evangelicals support the Republican nominee because of long-standing “culture war” issues such as abortion and gay rights. Trump has said he is antiabortion and promised to appoint conservative justices to the Supreme Court, so evangelicals are willing to set aside concerns about his moral character. It may also be that they support Trump simply because he’s not Hillary Clinton. Partisanship is powerful.

Our research points to another factor...[read more] When the Iowa Caucus Goes to Church

In the buildup to the Iowa caucuses, much of the media attention has been on religion — of the candidates and of Iowa's caucus-goers. Though less discussed, religion also shows up in where the meetings in Iowa's 1,681 precincts take place, as many will caucus in a church. Has the religious right captured the Republican Party, seeking to skew the election by caucusing in churches? Not quite. [Head to story

These are two figures that we meant to accompany the piece.

The figure shows that selection of churches as caucus sites was quite rare among small population counties and very common among large population counties. The correlation is about r=.3.

The figure shows that selection of churches as caucus sites was quite rare among small population counties and very common among large population counties. The correlation is about r=.3.

The figure shows that choosing churches as caucus sites is only common in more religiously diverse counties (diversity is captured using a herfindahl index using 2010 RCMS data available from  By the way, this holds in a multivariate model with controls. 

The figure shows that choosing churches as caucus sites is only common in more religiously diverse counties (diversity is captured using a herfindahl index using 2010 RCMS data available from  By the way, this holds in a multivariate model with controls. : Mapping the "War on Christmas." (with Andy Lewis)

‘Tis the season for some to take offense when a store clerk says “happy holidays” instead of “merry Christmas,” or when a coffee chain converts to plain red cups for the holiday. The “war on Christmas” trope seems to surface with Black Friday sales, but who is actually at war?

It is easy to imagine saying “merry Christmas” as another cudgel in the culture wars between Christians and the irreligious. The actual story, however, is much more nuanced. Public Religion Research Institute asked a...[head to story]

On The Monkey Cage: Mike Huckabee’s attack on the Supreme Court could work. Here’s how.

By Paul A. Djupe and Andrew R. Lewis

For many, the national debate over same-sex marriage culminated on Friday with the United States Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in favor. However, some conservatives, such as Mike Huckabee, haven’t admitted defeat. Instead, they have attacked the Supreme Court itself, encouraging people and future presidents to rebuff the Court’s decision. Could his argument work?  New data suggests that it could.

Read more:

On The Monkey Cage: The freedom of religion argument could actually make gay marriage opponents more tolerant

By Paul A. Djupe, Andrew R. Lewis, and Ted Jelen

The rapid expansion of same-sex marriage has left some Americans with profound misgivings. Their opposition is sometimes expressed as a moral condemnation. But often it is framed around a hallowed American concept: rights.

More and more, religious people who oppose same-sex marriage draw on the First Amendment for support. In their view, the constitutional right to exercise one’s religious faith means that opponents of same-sex marriage should not have to do something that affirms these marriages. State legislators in Indiana and Arkansas recently sought to reinforce this position by passing their own versions of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act...

Read More:

Tony Jones covers our work on the emergent church

Two nice pieces from Tony Jones in Patheos cover Ryan Burge and my recent pieces on the politics of the emergent church.

Why Political Scientists Experiment with Religion and Politics

This is a guest post with Brian Calfano for Tobin Grant's Religion News Service blog

Experiments are one of the best tools in science. In an experiment, a researcher gives one group a “treatment” and then compares that group to the “control group” that did not receive the treatment. Experiments are used for all kinds of studies, but they are difficult to do with religion. We can’t randomly decide who must be religious and who cannot—or can we? Could researchers find ways to “control” religious experience in any sort of realistic way? It turns out that there have been a number of creative attempts to do just that and their results are helping us sort out religion’s role in politics.

Here are two lessons that we have learned from experiments on religion and politics.

1. “God talk” can be effective as long as it’s not blatant

In 2006, David Kuo wrote a tell-all book about his experience working with George W. Bush as Deputy Director of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. Among his accounts was the practice of placing “God talk” or coded statements into Bush’s speeches that would be known only to evangelicals and no one else. Phrases like “wonder-working power” (from the hymn “There is power in the blood”) and “one stray lamb” (from the parable of the lost sheep) would signal to evangelicals that Bush was one of them without scaring off other voters.

Does this kind of strategy work? The short answer is yes. We ran an experiment in which people read about one of two fictitious candidates for public office: one candidate made a statement with an example of Kuo’s God talk and the other did not. Most people saw both candidates the same—the God talk did not matter. But evangelicals read the God talk and responded. Evangelicals viewed the “God talk candidate” as more conservative. They also supported the “God talk candidate” more than other voters.

Candidate’s use of God talk can go too far, however. New research that will appear in Politics & Religion by Bryan McLaughlin and David Wise shows that these cues need to remain coded. Even the most religious reduce their support for a candidate using bold religious cues (compared to a control). A little God talk to signal that a candidate is part of a religious group is helpful, but going too far with religious references will turn off even religious voters.

2. Some aspects of religion support democratic values, some do not

Experiments are also helping us untangle the relationship between religion and support for democratic values. One creative experiment by Pazit Ben-Nun Bloom and Gizem Arikan had people reflect on either their religious beliefs or their religious activity (attending religious services). The researchers then asked each group about their support for civil liberties. Those who thought about their beliefs—which includes a lot of moral judgments—were less supportive of protecting civil liberties. Those who reflected on church attendance, a complex social experience, increased it. In our experiments, we had people reflect on what messages are conveyed through religious experiences. Simply being asked to consider whether or not people should shop at stores owned by fellow believers decreased people’s willingness to extend equal rights to a group they disliked. On the other hand, reflecting on the value of inviting people to church increased political tolerance.

Why is this finding so important? The fact that religion can be “primed” suggests that the politics of believers is not hardwired. Instead, it has to be maintained. People need to hear messages over and over and have them reinforced. It also means that there is the potential for the views of religious people to change over time.

- See more at:


Evangelicals and Immigration – Sea Change in the Making?

The path to comprehensive immigration reform appears to have been smoothed by the 2012 presidential election. It was widely perceived that the Republican Party’s tough stand on immigration, supporting a policy of “self-deportation,”[1] limited their appeal and cost votes in key states. At the same time, a crucial component of the Republican coalition, evangelical Protestants, have been making efforts to push immigration reform efforts as well for several years now. For instance, The Evangelical Immigration Table[2], a coalition of 150+ evangelical leaders, issued a post-election letter to President Obama calling for comprehensive immigration reform within the first 92 days of his second term (“92” is significant as the number of times the Hebrew word for immigrant “ger” appears in the Bible).[3]  This would appear to portend great change in the American political landscape.

One of the crucial lingering questions, then, is what evangelicals in the pews think of immigrants and immigration reform and what shapes their attitudes? It is no surprise that white, born-again respondents to a recent survey by PRRI have a distinctive outlook on immigrants and immigration, which the attached Figure 1 shows. In essence, evangelicals are more concerned about threats to an “American way of life” and are more in favor of deportation or self-deportation as policy options (thought not in huge majorities). White evangelicals are also more likely than other Americans to believe that the growing number of newcomers from other countries threatens American values and way of life (58% vs. 40%). Finally, a survey list experiment designed to uncover concerns about the changing racial and ethnic makeup of America also found that white, born-again Christians were more likely than whites overall to be worried or bothered by the U.S. becoming a majority-minority nation.[4] Half (50%) of white, born-again Christians agreed with the statement: “The idea of America where most people are not white bothers me.” In contrast, among whites overall, fewer than one-third (31%) agreed with this statement, and among all Americans fewer than 1-in-4 (23%) agreed.

White evangelicals are less likely to report having friends who were born outside the US, but this factor plays little role in shaping evangelicals views toward immigrants or immigration (in logistic regression models of the variables listed in the figure). This evidence helps us to focus our attention on evangelicals’ values and worldview, which by this logic should be the most significant determinants of their immigration attitudes. It turns out that is true, but the problem is that the two dominant values at play in this debate are cross-cutting. Those who believe enforcing the rule of law is more important are more likely to think that, for instance, the American way of life needs to be protected from foreign influence. On the other hand, those who believe that welcoming the stranger is more important believe the opposite – that the American way of life is not under threat. As of this polling snapshot, more evangelicals believe that enforcing the rule of law is extremely important (41%) than believe that welcoming the stranger is extremely important (25%). And few evangelicals (14%) believe that welcoming the stranger is more important than enforcing the rule of law. So, here’s the rub: this set of values probably leaves evangelicals resistant to opposing the current law and, thus, opposed to immigration reform. Perhaps the only way to garner broad evangelical support is to change the law first, which would allow compassion for the undocumented to mesh with the law of the land.

Given the cross-cutting effect of the two primary values in play, it is no surprise that those who have heard their clergyperson speak out about immigration do not have systematically different views toward immigrants and immigration. If those clergy are following the scripts set out by the Evangelical Immigration Table, which emphasize the rule of law and welcoming the stranger, then we shouldn’t expect evangelicals in the pews to change their minds anytime soon.

Moreover, befitting their voting behavior, more evangelicals remain attached to the Republican Party. Evangelicals trust the Republican Party to deal with immigration and illegal immigration by a 2-1 margin (52-30% and 52-29%, respectively). Thus, the value conflict evangelicals hold is compounded by adherence to political figures and political beliefs who are only grudgingly supportive of immigration reform. Evangelical elites have taken a position in favor of comprehensive immigration reform for several years now and that shift may have given Republicans some cover. But, if there is going to be comprehensive immigration reform, we might give more credit to high ranking Republicans who read the tea leaves after November, 2012 and have since staked out positions in favor of a path to citizenship.

Originally published here.



[3] According to Wheaton political scientist Amy Black in her op-ed:

[4] For more discussion of a list experiment, please see an earlier post of mine:

PRRI Post: “Anglo-Saxon” Hits the Campaign Trail

By design, presidential contenders face the significant challenge of cobbling and holding together constituencies of enormous diversity. Uniting Main Street and Wall Street, religious and secular, farm and factory has always posed problems for candidates, now compounded by the inability to confine stump speeches to particular groups. Campaigns have to imagine that what they say to the religious will be heard by the secular, and so on. The trick is to convey a message such that only the target group truly understands it – coded communication.

PRRI Post: The (Continued) Politics of Racial Resentment


fter a sound defeat in the race for the White House, Republicans are still searching for answers about why their “most electable” presidential candidate lost and what if anything they should do differently going forward. The message from the candidate himself is consistent with some of the less popular campaign themes. In a call to his finance committee, Mitt Romney argued that Barack Obama won because of the “gifts” he bestowed on young people and minorities. In remarks that dovetail Romney’s, VP nominee Paul Ryan indicated that urban, minority turnout was to blame for their loss. These comments reflect a broader theme: that Obama did not understand the problems of white Americans, and primarily focused his policies on the needs or demands of racial minorities. The challenge, of course, is to determine just how many Americans, if any, agree.