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The Paradoxical Religiosity Effect: Religion and Politics in Indonesia and the United States

  • Nathanael Gratias Sumaktoyo (a1), Victor Ottati (a2) and Vinaya Untoro (a3)

We argue that personal religiosity and political religiosity are distinct attributes of a political candidate. Personal religiosity reflects a candidate's level of personal religious commitment and political religiosity reflects the candidate's policy regarding separating versus blending religion and politics. The paradoxical religiosity hypothesis predicts that, within a democracy, personal religiosity will increase voters' endorsement of a candidate whereas political religiosity will decrease voters' endorsement. We test this hypothesis comparatively in two experiments, one performed within a long-standing democracy containing predominantly Christian voters (the United States), and the other within a more recent democracy containing predominantly Muslim voters (Indonesia). We demonstrate the robustness of the paradoxical religiosity effect and its persistence across the two countries, suggesting that Muslim Indonesians are no less capable than Christian Americans in separating the sacred and the secular.

Corresponding author
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Nathanael Gratias Sumaktoyo, Department of Political Science, 217 O'Shaughnessy Hall, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556. E-mail:; or Victor Ottati, Department of Psychology, Loyola University Chicago, 1032 W Sheridan Rd, Chicago, IL 60660. E-mail:; or Vinaya Untoro, Fakultas Psikologi, Universitas Pancasila, Jagakarsa, Jakarta Selatan 12640, Indonesia.
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Politics and Religion
  • ISSN: 1755-0483
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