Union University
Union University Department of Political Science
Department of Political Science

News


Kuchem and Mohler win Grant to Study College Evangelical Political Beliefs

Dec 7, 2009

This past week, Dr. Randy Phillips, Director of Research at Union University, announced the winners of the Undergraduate Research Grants for 2009-2010. One of the competitive research grants went to Matthew Kuchem, a senior from Ft. Worth, TX, and Katie Mohler, a junior from Louisville, KY, for working with Drs. Sean Evans and Micah Watson of the Department of Political Science on the College Evangelical Survey.

The grant is to help the students work with Drs. Evans and Watson as they prepare a survey of college evangelical students to determine their beliefs and attitudes and the role faith has in shaping their beliefs. This work builds on the work of James Hunter survey of college evangelicals students in 1982 when the Christian Right became more well-known and the work that was continued by Jim Penning and Corwin Smidt in 1996. Their research found that there was not much of a change in the beliefs of evangelical students in the intervening years indicating that modernization was not undermining the beliefs of evangelicals and indicating that the Christian Right would remain strong.

This grants allows Kuchem and Mohler to work with Drs. Evans and Watson continue this study. Over the past decade or so, evangelicalism has seen tremendous change with the disappearance of the Moral Majority and the Christian Coalition and a growing sense, among some, that political engagement has failed leading some Christians to focus on changing hearts instead of using political action. Moreover, evangelicalism has seen an increase in the number of issues that faith addresses as the environment and social justice are being more prominent. Finally, we see large support among young people, including evangelicals, for Barack Obama which may indicate that evangelicals are moving toward a more centrist politics.

In their survey, the investigators hope to examine these trends by examining the political beliefs of college evangelicals students today. The investigators plan to pilot test their survey on Union students this spring and then carry out a national survey of college evangelical students in the next couple of years by surveying students at select evangelicals schools across the nation.