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Article

Abstract

Recent research on religion’s influence on civic life in the United States has focused predominantly on either studying the civic consequences of the rise of Evangelical Protestantism or focused on religion’s ability to promote civic engagement and social capital generally. These two lines of study run the risk of assuming the salience of particular theological beliefs across social contexts while also neglecting an attempt to understand how religious communities and belief can promote explicitly religious civic orientations. I build on Bourdieu’s concept of habitus to propose a theoretical remedy for these shortcomings in the research. Using original survey data collected in Mainline Protestant congregations in a Midwest metropolitan area, I use binary logistic regression to test hypotheses which posit how the religious practices, non religious practices, and identities of Mainline Protestants may influence the likelihood of forming a religious civic orientation. Results show early support for the Bourdieuian theoretical framework, and suggest that prayer frequency and employment in the private sector may have a strong ability to influence Mainline Protestants’ civic orientations. I end by suggesting implications the findings have for the future of research on religious meaning’s ability to transfer across contexts into individuals’ orientations towards the civic sphere.

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