Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Christians favour politicians with religious faith: survey

Christian politics, Christian voter, Christian voting, election, leadership, religion
Australian Christians would be more likely to vote for a political leader active in another faith than for an atheist, according to recent research.

Grant Power, as part of his PhD, surveyed 1109 Australian Christians about the effects on their voting intentions of political party leaders' religiosity. Full results here.

In an article published in Crikey last October, Power wrote:
'The two most important factors influencing voting intentions were not religious —  party policies and the political party were key. That is no real surprise — previous research has shown that party policies and the political party are significant factors affecting the voting intentions of the general population.
But the political party leader is the third most important factor, and is considered an important factor that influences Christians’ voting intention. This is consistent with the personalisation of Australian politics and the increasing profile of political party leaders. Think Rudd in the lead-up to the 2007 election. Or nowadays Abbott.
The religion of political party leaders is known by many in the Australian public. Political leaders regularly discuss their own religiosity within public and political discourse; John Howard and Peter Costello highlighted their Christianity to the Hillsong congregation whilst Rudd explained the ins-and-outs of his religion in The Monthly. This would suggest that the religiosity of political party leaders might be an important factor affecting the voting intention of Christians.
And the survey showed that Christians are indeed religiocentric  — they possess in-group favouritism for Christian political leaders as well as a comparative bias against non-religious and non-Christian political party leaders (see graph below). The agnostics and atheists fare worst — Christians would be least inclined to support atheist and agnostic political party leaders.'
Power concluded that if the difference between the main leaders and their parties was large, the influence of the Christian vote may not be significant. However, he says, 'if the race tightens up a bit, then the Christian vote could become vitally important in deciding who is the next prime minister of Australia.'

Power concluded that perhaps the findings are a wake-up call to Christian voters and those involved in Christian politics:

'The research shows that Christians are prejudiced against non-Christian and non-religious political party leaders. And, in this, their voting decisions are being influenced by factors that don’t actually have much to do with their leadership ability.'

* Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/freedigitalphotos.net


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