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Where do religion and politics merge?

About the Larger Study

This study is part of a larger Pew-funded project at Princeton University entitled The Public Role of Mainline Protestantism (Robert Wuthnow, principal investigator). To find out more about this project see the page of description at http://www.princeton.edu/~csrelig/role.htm or the Center for the Study of Religion at http://www.princeton.edu/~csrelig/

Laura Olson, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Clemson University conducted the research on Mainline Denominational Washington Lobbies.

For this research, Dr. Olson interviewed the heads of five mainline Washington offices (in person) and 62 mainline clergy across the United States (over the telephone). The clergy serve in 35 different states plus the District of Columbia. Thirteen of the clergy (21 percent) are women; five (8 percent) identified themselves and African American, and two (3 percent) identified themselves as Hispanic American. All are ordained and all but three were serving congregations. On average these clergy have been in the ministry for just over twenty years and have been serving their congregations for just over seven years. The interviews ranged in duration from fifteen minutes to over an hour.

Half of the clergy were chosen on the basis of a national random sample of church ZIP codes. The remaining clergy were identified by their denominations as pastors who belong to the Washington offices’ action networks. The names of the "networked" clergy were obtained from Washington offices, state-level denominational offices, and denominational websites. Only a very small percentage of all clergy belong to these action networks, though, so "networked" clergy are vastly over-represented in this study - but for a reason. Comparing these two separate groups of clergy illustrates the extent and nature of the ties between parish clergy and the Washington offices.


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