A recently published study has found that Christian Right involvement in politics has contributed to declining church membership.
The study, published on April 26th, was lead by Paul A. Djupe, a political science professor at Denison University. Djupe and the other researchers used data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, as well as "data drawing on expert reports and interest group counts that capture the prominence of the movement in each American state from 2000 to 2010."
What the researchers found was that between 2000 and 2010, the rate of religious disaffiliation increased in states where the religious right were fighting public political battles (such as trying to ban same-sex marriage).
One of the more interesting things the team found was that the "pattern holds regardless of whether the individual state in question is generally thought of as being a politically 'red' or 'blue' state." Often we think of the red states as being these monolithic bastions of religiosity, but it seems that the Christian Right is doing themselves more harm than good with all these moral battles they try to fight.
Back in December, I wrote about the evidence that Evangelicals are becoming increasingly uncomfortable with their own affiliation due to political leaders like President Trump and Roy Moore being associated with them. This study seems to reinforce what was covered there.
When Jerry Falwell and his Moral Majority Party got involved in politics in the early 1980s the Christian Right began a trek down a slippery slope. In order to continue supporting politicians who behaved in very non-Christian ways, they had to cherry-pick their principles more and more and they had to apply unreasonable justifications to an increasing number of controversies. And they did all of this to assert their moral authority on several issues, but in the decades since, the general public has been embracing more liberal opinions on those issues. Again, same-sex marriage is a good example.
As public opinion shifts, the Christian Right continue to make themselves appear more unreasonable, more out of touch, and more willing to embrace any politician who will further their agenda on issues like school prayer or abortion.
It can often be difficult to feel hopeful about the future in today's political and social climate. News like this, though, that the Christian Right may be doing more to turn people away from churches than most atheists ever could, that makes me smile.