Divine inspiration

Kevin Lewis

January 10, 2019

Access denied: Exploring Muslim American representation and exclusion by state legislators
Nazita Lajevardi
Politics, Groups, and Identities, forthcoming


Post 9/11, evidence that Muslim Americans are experiencing discrimination is pervasive. This paper tests what has previously been only anecdotal evidence that discrimination extends to Muslims' treatment by legislators. I conduct two audit experiments on state legislators to test for discrimination. I first compare how state legislators in all fifty states assist low versus high socioeconomic Muslim American individuals applying for an internship and compare their treatment to that of whites. Not only does socioeconomic status not matter for Muslims - whites receive more responses regardless of SES - but party affiliation does not affect response rates either. I then run a similar experiment testing responses to religious leaders requesting a legislative visit. Imams are significantly less likely than their Pastor counterparts to receive a response. Across both studies, the results are consistent: the American Muslim community and its members experience widespread discrimination at the hands of elected representatives.

Are the faithful becoming less fruitful? The decline of conservative protestant fertility and the growing importance of religious practice and belief in childbearing in the US
Samuel Perry & Cyrus Schleifer
Social Science Research, forthcoming


Studies of religion and fertility argue that American childbearing has become less predicated on religious tradition and more on religious commitment and belief. Yet studies have not documented this transition over time or considered whether the growing importance of religious commitment and belief in childbearing applies across Christian traditions equally. Using data from the 1972-2016 General Social Surveys, we analyze childbearing trends across time and birth cohort focusing on the independent and interrelated effects of religious tradition, religious practice, and theological fundamentalism. We also utilize zero-inflated negative binomial regression models to better account for the increasing number of Americans who forego childbearing. Conservative Protestant affiliation is associated with faster than average declines in fertility, while monthly church attendance and biblical literalism are associated with slower than average declines in fertility, ceteris paribus. Examining moderating relationships, monthly worship attendance slightly increases the childbearing of mainline Protestants and Catholics over time, while conservative Protestant childbearing declines regardless of attendance. Unless offset by switching, our findings portend future population declines for conservative Protestants, notably, ones that are not attenuated by greater religious commitment.

Is Islam Compatible with Free-Market Capitalism? An Empirical Analysis, 1970-2010
Indra de Soysa
Politics and Religion, forthcoming


Are majority-Muslim countries laggards when it comes to developing liberal economic institutions? Using an Index of Economic Freedom and its component parts, this study finds that Muslim-dominant countries (>50% of the population) are positively associated with free-market capitalism. Protestant dominance is also positively correlated, but the association stems from just two components of the index, mainly “legal security and property rights protection.” Surprisingly, Protestant countries correlate negatively with “small government” and “freedom to trade,” two critical components of free-market capitalism. Muslim dominance shows positive correlations with all areas except for “legal security and property rights.” The results are consistent when assessing similar variables measuring property rights and government ownership of the economy collected by the Varieties of Democracy Project. Capitalistic policies and institutions, it seems, may travel across religions more easily than culturalists claim.

The Moral Community Divide: Underage Marijuana Use Across Religious Contexts
Fanhao Nie & Xiaozhao Yang
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, forthcoming


Compared to individual‐level research on religion and marijuana use, much less research has been conducted to investigate how the overall religious context of a geographic location may influence marijuana use during adolescence and early adulthood. Using multilevel analyses on two waves of the National Study of Youth and Religion (NSYR) merged with county‐level variables from the U.S. Census and the Religious Congregations and Membership Study (RCMS), this study finds that a county's higher Catholic population share is negatively associated with underage marijuana use frequency even after controlling for a wide range of individual and county‐level variables. Besides being robust, the Catholic contextual effect on marijuana use is also diffusive, influencing both Catholic and non‐Catholic youth who live in the same county. This study highlights the importance of viewing religious influence on substance use as a contextual, cultural force across different kinds of religious moral communities.

Joint religiosity and married couples’ sexual satisfaction
Jeffrey Dew, Jeremy Uecker & Brian Willoughby
Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, forthcoming


Although many studies have examined the association between religion and sexuality, the majority of these studies have focused on nonmarital sex. Unfortunately, despite the fact that a satisfying sexual relationship plays a critical role in married couples’ relationship quality and stability, the associations between religiosity and marital sexual satisfaction are not well understood. Thus, to examine the association between religiosity and couples’ reports of married sexual satisfaction, the authors of this study used dyadic data from a nationally representative sample of married couples (N = 1,368) between the ages of 18 and 45. They used both joint and individual measures of religiosity as well as examining the relationship mechanisms that might link religiosity and sexual satisfaction. In the models, individual-level reports of marital sanctification were positively associated with wives’ and husbands’ reports of sexual satisfaction. Furthermore, joint religious activities done in the home were positively associated with husbands’ reports of sexual satisfaction. Marital commitment, relationship maintenance behaviors, and spousal time fully mediated these associations for husbands, while commitment partially mediated the association for wives.

Reducing defensive responses to thoughts of death: Meditation, mindfulness, and Buddhism
Young Chin Park & Tom Pyszczynski
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, January 2019, Pages 101-118


Three studies investigated the effects of meditation on responses to reminders of death. Study 1 took a quasi-experimental approach, comparing defensive responses to mortality salience (MS) of South Korean participants with varying levels of experience with Buddhism and meditation. Whereas non-Buddhists without meditation showed the typical increase in worldview defense after mortality salience (MS), this effect was not found among non-Buddhists immediately after an initial meditation experience, nor among lay Buddhists who meditated regularly or Buddhist monks with intensive meditation experience. Study 2, a fully randomized experiment, showed that MS increased worldview defense among South Koreans at a meditation training who were assessed before meditating but not among participants assessed after their first meditation experience. Study 3 showed that whereas American students without prior meditation experience showed increased worldview defense and suppression of death-related thoughts after MS, these effects were eliminated immediately after an initial meditation experience. Death thought accessibility mediated the effect of MS on worldview defense without meditation, but meditation eliminated this mediation.

Religiosity and Financial Crises in the United States
Wafa Hakim Orman
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, forthcoming


The farm crisis in the United States in the 1980s had profound effects on rural, agricultural regions of the country, but almost no impact on urban and suburban areas. At the same time, the 2007-2008 housing crisis impacted almost all metropolitan areas, but was much more deeply felt in certain states, such as California, Arizona, Nevada, and Florida. I use a difference‐in‐differences methodology and find that religiosity as measured by religious attendance, prayer frequency, and religious intensity increased significantly in areas impacted by the farm crisis for those who worked in agriculture, and by the housing crisis for those who worked in housing‐related industries. Chen describes increased religiosity in Indonesia following the 1998 financial crisis, and this article demonstrates a similar response to severe financial distress in the United States. This increase is not due to a lower opportunity cost of time, as those who are currently employed have higher levels of attendance than those who are not. I hypothesize that the increased religiosity results from religious institutions’ ability to provide public goods, both financial and emotional, in the form of community support.

Biased Altruism: Islamophobia and Donor Support for Global Humanitarian Organizations
Joannie Tremblay‐Boire & Aseem Prakash
Public Administration Review, January/February 2019, Pages 113-124


Providing humanitarian assistance to displaced individuals is a critical policy challenge. Many refugee camps are run by charities supported by Western donors. If refugees are predominantly Muslim, might Islamophobia suppress donations to these charities? Using a survey experiment conducted in the United States, the authors examine whether donors' willingness to support a charity is influenced by the dominant religion of the refugees, the regions in which refugee camps are located, and/or the religious affiliation of the charity. The authors find modest support for Islamophobia: while willingness to donate is not affected by the location of camps or the predominance of Muslim refugees, it declines significantly for Islamic charities. Respondents overall tend to be especially willing to donate to a charity that serves Christian refugees in the Middle East. Among self‐identifying Christians, respondents are more willing to donate to a charity serving Christian refugees than one serving Muslim refugees.

Christian America in Black and White: Racial Identity, Religious-National Group Boundaries, and Explanations for Racial Inequality
Samuel Perry & Andrew Whitehead
Sociology of Religion, forthcoming


Recent research suggests that, for white Americans, conflating national and religious group identities is strongly associated with racism, xenophobia, and Islamophobia, prompting some to argue that claims about Christianity being central to American identity are essentially about reinforcing white supremacy. Prior work has not considered, however, whether such beliefs may influence the racial views of nonwhite Americans differently from white Americans. Drawing on a representative sample of black and white Americans from the 2014 General Social Survey, and focusing on explanations for racial inequality as the outcome, we show that, contrary to white Americans, black Americans who view being a Christian as essential to being an American are actually more likely to attribute black-white inequality to structural issues and less to blacks’ individual shortcomings. Our findings suggest that, for black Americans, connecting being American to being Christian does not necessarily bolster white supremacy, but may instead evoke and sustain ideals of racial justice.

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