New Cambridge University Press Book by Ryan Claassen

Do Evangelical activists control the Republican Party? Do secular activists control the Democratic Party?

In "Godless Democrats and Pious Republicans," Ryan Claassen carefully assesses the way campaign activists represent religious and non-religious groups in American political parties dating back to the 1960s. By providing a new theoretical framework for investigating the connections between macro social and political trends, the results challenge a conventional wisdom in which recently mobilized religious and secular extremists captured the parties and created a God gap. The new approach reveals that very basic social and demographic trends matter far more than previously recognized and that mobilization matters far less. The God gap in voting is real, but it was not created by Christian Right mobilization efforts and a Secular backlash. Where others see culture wars and captured parties, Claassen finds many religious divisions in American politics are artifacts of basic social changes. This very basic insight leads to many profoundly different conclusions about the motivations of religious and non-religious activists and voters.

“This thoughtful and empirically detailed study of religion and party activism takes us miles beyond simplistic commentaries about godly Republicans and godless Democrats.” ~ Morris P. Fiorina, Stanford University

Ryan Claassen’s Godless Democrats and Pious Republicans? makes a major contribution to increasing our understanding of how religious divisions impact American party politics specifically and American society more generally. Rejecting oversimplified notions of party capture and mobilization, Claassen provides a nuanced and comprehensive account of how religion and politics have interacted during the last half century. It will force scholars to reconsider conventional thinking on this important topic.” ~ Edward G. Carmines, Indiana University

“By exploring the social roots of secularization in the American electorate, Claassen provides fresh and original insights into the role and origins of religious divides in U.S. party politics. This account deserves to be read by scholars of contemporary American elections and voting behavior, parties, and religion, while the broader lessons also shed light on the connections between religiosity and party politics elsewhere in the world.” ~ Pippa Norris, Harvard University and Sydney University