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God Talk in a Digital Age: How Members of Congress Use Religious Language on Twitter

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 May 2020

Brittany H. Bramlett*
Affiliation:
University of Georgia
Ryan P. Burge
Affiliation:
Eastern Illinois University
*Corresponding
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Brittany H. Bramlett, University of Georgia, Athens, GA. E-mail: bbram@uga.edu

Abstract

This article analyzes the use of religious language on Twitter by members of the U.S. Congress (MOCs). Politicians use various media platforms to communicate about their political agendas and their personal lives. In the United States, religious language is often part of the messaging from politicians to their constituents. This is done carefully and often strategically and across media platforms. With members of Congress increasingly using Twitter to connect with constituents on a regular basis, we want to explain who uses religious language on Twitter, when, and how. Using 1.5 million tweets scraped from members of Congress in April of 2018, we find that MOCs from both major political parties make use of a “religious code” on Twitter in order to send messages about their own identities as well as to activate the religious identities of their constituents. However, Republicans use the code more extensively and with Judeo-Christian-specific terms. Additionally, we discuss gender effects for the ways MOCs use “religious code” on Twitter.

Type
Article
Copyright
Copyright © Religion and Politics Section of the American Political Science Association 2020

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