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

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Kuchem and Mohler Present Paper with Faculty at CPS meeting

Jun 10, 2010

Union University students Matt Kuchem and Katie Mohler presented a paper entitled "Evangelicals in the Age of Obama" with Professors Sean Evans and Micah Watson. The students presented the paper at the Christians in Political Science Conference held at Union University's Stephen Olford Center in Germanton on June 4. The students previously received a Faculty-Student Undergraduate Research Grant to work on the project with the professors.

The paper tries to assess the impact of political disillusionment by religious conservatives, a failed evangelical president, an expanding evangelical policy agenda, and outreach to evangelicals by Democrats on current college evangelical beliefs. If there is change, then this has the potential to affect both liberal and conservative politics in the future. The project tests this hypothesis by surveying college evangelical students and comparing the results to previous surveus of college evangelicals in 1982 adn 1996.

Our study of Union University students finds that they come from very religiously committed families that attend services often and that students are very involved in their home church. We also find them intensely orthodox as they believe with greater intensity the basic commitments to the Christian faith and tend to resist certain cultural dogmas such as feminism as they accept male authority in the home and church but believe women can exercise leadership in government and business. We also find greater support for denominations and organized religion than in the past.

Politically, the students are slightly more conservative and Republican than past cohorts suggesting that students are not changing their political stripes. Looking at the big picture, we see students taking conservative positions 2/3 of the time. We find more liberal results on social justice issues but find that the students want to achieve them via conservative means such as church and community groups rather than government. We also find greater support for environmentalism but once again they want to use conservative means to acheive it as they support an "all of the above" approach rather than the traditional regulatory approach. We also find that students are slightly more liberal on the war on terror, conservative on foreign policy, and undecided on economic policy.

In examining how faith influences their politics, we find that students are unable to connect specific theological beliefs to political issues but their faith still affects their views through the socialization effects of church attendance and participation and growing up in a spiritual family. Professors Evans and Watson appreciate the work of Matt and Katie and will continue to work on this project in the hope of pursuing a nationwide sample of college evangelicals in 2012.