Home / News / Are liberal or conservative Christians more politically engaged?
President Biden speaks during a worship service at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta. Jan. 15, 2023. Photo: White House Press Office.

Are liberal or conservative Christians more politically engaged?

Forget what you’ve heard about conservative Christians taking over the country. This study turns conventional wisdom on its head about who is really politically engaged.

I like tweets like the one below because I honestly don’t know if the statement is true or not.

But I think I can try to bring some data to bear, and that could be helpful.

The general sense I get from reading a lot of tweets by conservative Christians is that they want to do their best to create a clear distinction between themselves and those who are left of center.

I know that George Yancey and Ashlee Quosigk published a book back in 2021 that touches on this point. In “One Faith No Longer,” they make the case that liberal Christians have an entirely different framework for making political decisions compared to conservative ones. They go so far as to write, “Indeed, we argue that the ways in which these two groups deal with questions of meaning are so different that it is time to regard them as distinct religious groups rather than as subgroups under a single religious umbrella.”

But I wanted to test this liberal Christian versus conservative Christian in a much more narrow way — by looking at which group is more politically engaged. Conservative Christians seem convinced that progressive Christians are the ones who are going to marches and working for candidates. Meanwhile, a lot of left of center folks seem convinced that White evangelicals punch way above their weight in the political arena. So, who is right?

The Cooperative Election Study was conducted in October and November of 2020 — right before the general election between Joe Biden and Donald Trump. Folks were given a list of six political activities and asked if they participated in any of them over the previous month. They run the gamut from very high intensity (working for a candidate) to very low impact (putting up a political sign.) I restricted the sample to just Protestants, Catholics, Orthodox Christians, and Latter-day Saints. Then again by political ideology.

Clearly, the conclusion that emerges here is that liberal Christians are more politically active. In the case of attending political meetings, such as school board or city council meetings, and putting up political signs, the difference between liberal and conservative Christians wasn’t significant. But in the other four activities, the gaps tend to be fairly robust.

A liberal Christian was more than twice as likely to attend a protest or march (13% vs 5%), six points more likely to contact a public official, eleven points more likely to donate money to a candidate (38% vs 27%) and twice as likely to volunteer their time for a candidate or campaign. Pretty hard to say that conservative Christians are more active when looking at this first graph. It’s the liberal Christians that seem to be engaging in the most laborious type of political activity.

To read the rest of Ryan Burge’s post, click here.

–Ryan Burge |

Leave a Reply