Skip to main content

Comparing Political Attitudes of Evangelicals with the Attitudes of Mainline Christians and Non-Church Members in The Netherlands

  • Paul Vermeer (a1) and Peer Scheepers (a1)

Evangelicals are generally considered culturally conservative regarding issues like abortion or homosexuality and sometimes also economically conservative regarding issues like tax reduction. But does this image also apply to Dutch evangelicals who live in a secular environment in which they constitute only a tiny fraction of the number of church members? This article explores the political attitudes of Dutch evangelicals with the help of two research questions: (1) Do Dutch evangelicals hold more conservative political attitudes on economic and cultural issues than Catholics, mainline Protestants and non-church members? and (2) Which decisive factors determine the supposed conservatism among Dutch evangelicals as compared to Catholics, mainline Protestants and non-church members? Analyses of survey data show that Dutch evangelicals are indeed culturally conservative, but more liberal in economic matters. In addition, results also show that their cultural conservatism is related to their religious convictions, while their economic attitudes are unrelated to religion.

Corresponding author
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Paul Vermeer, Radboud University, Department of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies, P.O. Box 9103, 6500 HD Nijmegen, The Netherlands. E-mail:; or to: Peer Scheepers, Radboud University, Department of Sociology, P.O. Box 9104, 6500 HD Nijmegen, The Netherlands. E-mail:
Hide All
Andree, Trees. 1983. Gelovig word je niet vanzelf. Godsdienstige opvoeding van r.k. jongeren tussen de 12 en 20 jaar (Being Religious Does Not Occur Spontaneously. Religious Education of Catholic Youths between 12 to 20 Years of Age). Nijmegen: Dekker & Van de Vegt.
Bean, Lydia. 2014a. The Politics of Evangelical Identity. Local Churches and Partisan Divides in the United States. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Bean, Lydia. 2014b. “Compassionate Conservatives? Evangelicals, Economic Conservatism, and National Identity.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 53:164186.
Becker, Henk, Felling, Albert, Peters, Jan, and Sanders, Karin. 1995. “Cultureel conservatism in Nederland in de jaren tachtig: de invloed van generatie en denominatie (Cultural Conservatism in the Netherlands in the Eighties: The Influence of Generation and Denomination).” Mens en Maatschappij 70:289303.
Berger, Peter. 1973. The Social Reality of Religion. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.
Bernts, Ton, and Berghuijs, Joantine. 2016. God in Nederland 1966–2015. Utrecht: Ten Have.
Boersema, Pieter. 2005. “The Evangelical Movement in the Netherlands. New Wine in New Wineskins?” In The Dutch and their Gods. Secularization and Transformation of Religion in the Netherlands since 1950, ed. Erik, Sengers. Hilversum: Verloren, 163179.
Davis, James A. 1985. The Logic of Causal Order. Series on Quantitative Applications in the Social Sciences. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications.
Deckman, Melissa, Cox, Dan, Jones, Robert, and Cooper, Betsy. 2016. “Faith and the Free Market: Evangelicals, the Tea Party, and Economic Attitudes.” Politics and Religion doi:10.1017/S1755048316000420.
De Hart, Joep. 1990. “Impact of Religious Socialization in the Family.” Journal of Empirical Theology 3:5978.
Eisinga, Rob, Kraaykamp, Gerbert, Scheepers, Peer, and Thijs, Paula. 2012. Religion in Dutch Society 2011–2012. Documentation on a National Survey on Religious and Secular Attitudes and Behavior. Amsterdam: Pallas Publications.
Felling, Albert, and Peters, Jan. 1984. “Conservatisme in Nederland nader bekeken (A Closer Look at Conservatism in the Nettherlands).” Mens en Maatschappij 59:339362.
Felling, Albert, and Peters, Jan. 1986Conservatism in the Netherlands, a multidimensional concept.” Netherlands Journal of Social Sciences 22:3660.
Hippe, Joop, and Lucardie, Anthonie. 1998. “Kanttekeningen bij de groei van de protestants-christelijke partijen in Nederland. (Remarks on the Growth of Protestant-Christian Parties in the Netherlands)Sociologische Gids 45:153165.
Hoge, Dean R., and Petrillo, Gregory H.. 1978. “Determinants of Church Participation and Attitudes among High School Youth.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 17:359379.
Hunter, James Davison. 1984. “Religion and Political Civility: The Coming Generation of American Evangelicals.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 4:364380.
Hunsberger, Bruce, and Brown, L.B.. 1984. “Religious Socialization, Apostasy, and the Impact of Family Background.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 23:239251.
Kellstedt, Lyman A., and Smidt, Corwin. 1991. “Measuring Fundamentalism: An Analysis of Different Operational Strategies.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 30:259278.
Linssen, Rik, Schmeets, Hans, Scheepers, Peer, and Manfred te Grotenhuis, . 2014. “Trends in Conventional and Unconventional Political Participation in Europe 1981–2008.” In Declining Political Trust, Disenchantment with Politics and Political Participation, eds. Eder, Christina, Mochman, Ingvill C., and Quandt, Markus. Leiden: Brill, 3158.
McAdams, Erin S., and Lance, Justin Earl. 2013. “Religion's Impact on the Divergent Political Attitudes of Evangelical Protestants in the United States and Brazil.” Politics and Religion 6:483511.
McGrath, Alister. 1995. Evangelicalism and the Future of Christianity. Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity Press.
Middendorp, Cees. 1991. Ideology in Dutch Politics. The Democratic System Reconsidered 1979–1985. Assen: Van Gorcum.
Myers, Scott M. 1996. “An Interactive Model of Religiosity Inheritance: The Importance of Family Context.” American Sociological Review 61:858866.
Need, Ariana. 1997. “The Kindred Vote. Individual and Family Effects of Social Class and Religion on Electoral Change in the Netherlands, 1956–1994.” Ph.D. diss. Katholieke Universiteit Nijmegen.
Norris, Pippa, and Inglehart, Ronald. 2004. Sacred and Secular. Religion and Politics Worldwide. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Pelz, Michael L., and Smidth, Corwin E.. 2015. “Generational Conversion? The Role of Religiosity in the Politics of Evangelicals.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 54:380401.
Putnam, Robert, and Campbell, David E.. 2010. American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.
Reitsma, Jan, Pelzer, Ben, Scheepers, Peer, and Schilderman, Hans. 2012. “Believing and Belonging in Europe 1981–2007: Comparisons of Longitudinal Trends and Determinants.” European Societies 14:611632.
Scheepers, Peer, Peters, Jan, and Felling, Albert. 2000. “Individualisering van politieke opvattingen (Individualization of Political Convictions).” In Individualisering in Nederland aan het einde van de twintigste eeuw. Empirisch onderzoek naar omstreden hypotheses (Individualization in the Netherlands at the End of the Twentieth Century. Empirical Research into Contested Hypotheses), eds. Felling, Albert, Peters, Jan, and Scheepers, Peer. Assen: Van Gorcum: 133156.
Schmalzbauer, John. 1993. “Evangelicals in the New Class: Class versus Subcultural Predictors of Ideology.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 32:330342.
Smidt, Corwin, and Penning, James M.. 1982. “Religious Commitment, Political Conservatism, and Political and Social Tolerance in the United States: A Longitudinal Analysis.” Sociological Analysis 43:231245.
Smith, Christian. 1998. American Evangelicalism: Embattled and Thriving. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Stanley, Brian. 2013. The Global Diffusion of Evangelicalism. The Age of Billy Graham and John Stott. Nottingham: Inter-Varsity Press.
Stoffels, Hyme. 1990. Wandelen in het licht. Waarden, geloofsovertuigingen en sociale posities van Nederlandse Evangelischen (Walking in the Light. Values, Religious Convictions and Social Positions of Dutch Evangelicals). Kampen: Kok.
Swartz, David R. 2012. “The Evangelical Left and the Future of Social Conservatism.” Society 49:5460.
Tajfel, Henri. 1981. Human Groups and Social Categories. Studies in Social Psychology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Tajfel, Henri. 1982. “Social Psychology of Intergroup Relations.” Annual Review of Social Psychology 33:139.
Troll, Lilliane E., and Bengtson, Vern. 1979. “Generations in the Family.” In Contemporary Theories about the Family. Research-Based Theories, eds. Burr, Wesley R., Hill, Reuben, Nye, F Ivan, and Reiss, Ira L.. New York, NY: MacMillan, 127161.
Van den Akker, Hanneke, Van den Ploeg, Rozemarijn, and Scheepers, Peer. 2013. “Disapproval of Homosexual Lifestyles in Europe 2002–2008.” International Journal of Public Opinion Research 25:6486.
Van Oorschot, Wim. 2006. “The Dutch Welfare State: Recent Trends and Challenges in Historical Perspective.” European Journal of Social Security 8:5776.
Vellenga, Sipco. 1991. Een ondernemende beweging. De groei van de evangelische beweging in Nederland (An Enterprising Movement. The Growth of the Evangelical Movement in the Netherlands). Amsterdam: VU uitgeverij.
Vermeer, Paul, and Scheepers, Peer. 2017. “Umbrellas of Conservative Belief: Explaining the Success of Evangelical Congregations in the Netherlands.” Journal of Empirical Theology 30:124.
Vermeer, Paul, Janssen, Jacques, and de Hart, Joep. 2011. “Religious Socialization and Church Attendance in the Netherlands between 1983 and 2007: A Panel Study.Social Compass 58:373392.
Vermeer, Paul, and Van der Ven, Johannes A.. 2004. “Looking at the Relationship between Religions. An Empirical Study among Secondary School Students.” Journal of Empirical Theology 17:3659.
Vollebergh, Wilma, Jurjen, Iedema, and Quinten, Raaijmakers. 1999. “The Intergenerational Transmission of Cultural and Economic Conservatism”. In Ideology in the Low Countries. Trends, Models and Lacunae, eds. De Witte, Hans, and Scheepers, Peer. Assen: Van Gorcum, 5168.
Vollebergh, Wilma, Iedema, Jurjen, and Meeus, Wim. 1997. “Conservatisme in Nederland 1970–1992. Het belang van leeftijds-, cohort- en sekseverschillen (Conservatism in the Netherlands 1970–1992. The Importance of Age, Cohort and Sex Differences).Sociologische Gids 44:100121.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Politics and Religion
  • ISSN: 1755-0483
  • EISSN: 1755-0491
  • URL: /core/journals/politics-and-religion
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed