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From Pews to Politics
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Book description

Does religion influence political participation? This book takes up this pressing debate using Christianity in sub-Saharan Africa as its empirical base to demonstrate that religious teachings communicated in sermons can influence both the degree and the form of citizens' political participation. McClendon and Riedl document some of the current diversity of sermon content in contemporary Christian houses of worship and then use a combination of laboratory experiments, observational survey data, focus groups, and case comparisons in Zambia, Uganda, and Kenya to interrogate the impact of sermon exposure on political participation and the longevity of that impact. Pews to Politics in Africa leverages the pluralism of sermons in sub-Saharan Africa to gain insight into the content of cultural influences and their consequences for how ordinary citizens participate in politics.

Reviews

'This deeply insightful, empirically rigorous, persuasive analysis demonstrates the influence of Christian sermons in Anglophone Africa. These teachings differ by denomination and context, serving as distinct interpretative maps that diagnose political problems - and suggest very different solutions.'

Anna Grzymala-Busse - Stanford University, California

'McClendon and Riedl have written an excellent and innovative book, in which they set out to discover whether religious teachings - even when not overtly political - shape political behavior. The authors’ deep knowledge of context and cases, combined with careful data and methods, show that religious ideas do have political effects, with implications for the culture of democracy.'

Melani Cammett - Clarence Dillon Professor of International Affairs, Harvard University, Massachusetts

'In this masterful account, McClendon and Riedl achieve something of the holy grail in religion and politics research … Scholars new and old will learn a tremendous amount from this important work, and work going forward will have to grapple with its lessons.'

Paul Djupe - Denison University, Ohio

'Religious messages are ubiquitous in Africa, yet little is known about how exposure to religious messages shapes political behavior. McClendon and Riedl fill this gap with an insightful and deeply illuminating analysis of the impact of this exposure. From Pews to Politics is a great book: theoretically grounded, empirically rich, and methodologically sophisticated.'

Daniel N. Posner - James S. Coleman Professor of International Development, University of California, Los Angeles

'From Pews to Politics makes an outstanding contribution to research on religion and politics. By meticulously applying an impressive array of empirical approaches, [it] convincingly demonstrates that Christian denominations' differing emphasis on individual agency affects adherents’ willingness to participate in politics and to seek structural change.'

Kimuli Kasara - Columbia University, New York

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