Major Minority Trends

Kevin Lewis

November 06, 2009

Muslims in Colorado: From a Novelty Religion to a Thriving Community

Patrick Bowen
Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, September 2009, Pages 345-354

In the US state of Colorado the Muslim population has grown ten-fold over the last half century. Consequently, the state has had to adjust from having little contact with non-Muslims to communicating with them on a regular basis. This article first presents the historical development of Colorado's Muslim community and the difficulties it has faced in the wake of recent world political events. The article then describes the growth of Colorado's interfaith community and its interaction with the Muslim ummah. In Colorado, Muslim/non-Muslim interfaith activities have increased exponentially since the mid-1990s, especially since September 11, 2001, due to the increased interest of various groups which have attempted to understand and teach each other about their respective world views. Currently there is at least one interfaith event every week in the state. As a result of this interaction, the Colorado Muslim community has become more integrated into the Colorado community-at-large, not only religiously, but also socially and politically.


Identity versus Identity: Israel and Evangelicals and the Two-Front War for Jewish Votes

Eric Uslaner & Mark Lichbach
Politics and Religion, December 2009, Pages 395-419

Republicans made major efforts to win a larger share of the Jewish vote in 2004 by emphasizing their strong support for Israel. They partially succeeded, but did not make a dent in the overall loyalty of American Jews to the Democratic party, since they lost approximately as many votes because of Jews' negative reactions to the party's evangelical base. We argue that both Israel and worries over evangelical influence in the country reflect concerns about Jewish identity, above and beyond disagreements on specific social issues. We compare American Jewish voting behavior and liberalism to the voting behavior of non-Jews in 2004 using a survey of Jews from the National Jewish Democratic Coalition and the American National Election Study. For non-Jews, attitudes toward evangelicals are closely linked to social issues, but for Jews this correlation is small. The Jewish reaction to evangelicals is more of an issue of identity and the close ties of evangelicals to the Republican Party keep many Jews Democratic. Attitudes toward evangelicals are far more important for Jewish voting behavior than for non-Jewish voters.


Why Do Arab States Lag the World in Gender Equality?

Pippa Norris
Harvard Working Paper, June 2009

Why do Arab states lag behind the rest of the world in gender equality? Social structural, cultural, and institutional accounts offer alternative perspectives. This study critiques the "petroleum patriarchy" thesis, presented in Michael Ross's "Oil, Islam and Women" (2008), which claims that the structure of oil-rich economies directly limit the role of women in the paid workforce and thus also (indirectly) restrict women's representation in parliament. In particular, Part I raises questions about the empirical evidence used by Ross, especially the selection of case-studies, the specification of the econometric models, and the lack of direct evidence for cultural values. Part II develops multilevel models demonstrating that religious traditions have a greater influence on attitudes towards gender equality and sexual liberalization than either labor force participation or oil rents. Part III then shows the impact of these cultural attitudes on the proportion of women in legislative and ministerial office. The conclusion summarizes the main findings and considers their implications.


Religious Influences on the Risk of Marital Dissolution

Margaret Vaaler, Christopher Ellison & Daniel Powers
Journal of Marriage and Family, November 2009, Pages 917-934

This study examined multiple dimensions of religious involvement and the risk of divorce among a nationwide sample of 2,979 first-time married couples. Multivariate proportional hazards modeling was used to analyze two waves of the National Survey of Families and Households. Results indicated that although each partner's religious attendance bore a modest relationship to marital dissolution, the risk of divorce was lower if husbands had conservative theological beliefs and when both partners belonged to mainline Protestant denominations. Conversely, the risk of divorce was elevated if husbands attended services more frequently than their wives and if wives were more theologically conservative than their husbands. These patterns withstood controls for sociodemographic covariates, marital duration, and marital quality. Directions for future research are discussed.


A Muslim President? Assessing the Causes and Consequences of Misperceptions about Barack Obama's Faith in the 2008 Presidential Election

Kerem Ozan Kalkan, Geoffrey Layman & John Green
Oxford Working Paper, August 2009

There is no question that racial and ethnic attitudes did matter in the 2008 presidential election. However, as the country elected its first black president, it was not feelings about African-Americans that were most important. Instead, it was attitudes toward Muslims, Arabs, and societal outgroups in general that seemed to be of greatest consequence. The belief that Obama was, in fact, a closet Muslim was held by a non-trivial percentage of people. In a survey experiment, we show that this misperception seems to have been prompted by cues about Obama's middle name and his childhood religious background. The effect of these cues was conditioned by individuals' levels of political sophistication and political predispositions. This misperception about Obama's faith then had a significant and relatively strong negative impact on the likelihood of voting for him. In models of 2008 vote choice that controlled for nearly all of the usual suspects in presidential vote models, we found that viewing Obama as Muslim had a strong and statistically significant negative effect on the likelihood of voting for Obama. That effect, not surprisingly, was concentrated primarily among individuals with negative opinions of Muslims and Arabs. Quite strikingly, the belief that Obama was Muslim and feelings about Muslims and Arabs had much stronger effects on vote choice in 2008 than did attitudes toward African Americans.


Religions, Constitutions, and the State: A Cross-National Study

Jonathan Fox & Deborah Flores
Journal of Politics, October 2009, Pages 1499-1513

This study examines whether 169 states follow three types of religion clauses in their constitutions. The presence of these clauses (based on an independent data collection) is compared to the religious discrimination and religious legislation variables from the Religion and State (RAS) dataset. The results show a lack of full observance of these constitutional clauses and that these clauses have at best a limited impact on government behavior. In multivariate analyses, clauses protecting religious freedom have no predictive value for levels of religious discrimination. The bivariate analysis shows that most states with such clauses engage in religious discrimination. States with constitutional separation of religion and state clauses have less religious legislation but all but one of them have at least some religious legislation. Clauses banning discrimination on the basis of religion or protecting equality regardless of religious identity have no effect on religious discrimination.


Islamic Legal Theory, Secularism and Religious Pluralism: Is Modern Religious Freedom Sufficient for the Shari'a 'Purpose [Maqsid]' of Preserving Religion [Hifz Al-Din]?'

Andrew March
Yale Working Paper, August 2009

Perhaps the most popular trend in contemporary Islamic legal and political thought is to view shari'a as embodied not primarily in specific rules nor in terms of a painstaking, thorough extraction of those rules from the revelatory texts according to the methods of classical legal theory (usul al-fiqh), but rather as defined in terms of the overall 'purposes' (maqasid) for which God revealed the law. The theory of the 'purposes of divine law' (maqasid al-shari'a), which I refer to as a form of 'Complex Purposivism' in legal interpretation and argumentation, is often viewed as a panacea for modern reformers and pragmatists who want to establish Islamic legitimacy for new substantive moral, legal and political commitments in new socio-political conditions, because it allows Muslims to ask not whether a given norm has been expressly endorsed within the texts, but whether it is compatible with the deeper goods and interests which God wants to protect through the law. All maqasid theories posit that there are five universal necessary interests the protection of which the law prioritizes: life, religion, lineage, property and reason. For all of these interests, protection can involve both positive and negative liberties, as well as various forms of restrictions on other less fundamental acts. The purpose of this paper is to examine some treatments of the meaning and extension of the Islamic legal purpose (maqsid) of protecting religion (hifz al-din), with an eye towards Islamic legal theorists' explicit or implicit encounter with modern liberal and secularist understandings of what it means to 'protect religion'.


Between Sacred Codes and Secular Consumer Society: The Practice of Headscarf Adoption among American College Girls

Mustafa Gurbuz & Gulsum Gurbuz-Kucuksari
Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, September 2009, Pages 387-399

Most studies on the practice of headscarf adoption focus on political nature of the practice; and therefore, obscure potential multiple meanings of veiling. As an alternative approach, following the post-hermeneutic analysis, our work contends for review of a neglected cultural side of the headscarf adoption: as performances of the Muslim self. The headscarf practice in American colleges provides a rich venue to an inquiry of Muslim girls' uneasiness and resistance they face in everyday life in a secular consumer society. Torn between dominant secular norms in the capitalist society and values of Islamic faith, most American Muslim college girls see their practice of wearing headscarves as "liberating" and "empowering". This research shows how headscarf adoption practice suggests a wide-ranging repertoire for multiple identity constructions of American Muslim college girls, including primarily religious, feminine, moral and communal identities.


Do more ethnically and religiously diverse countries have lower democratization?

Sacit Hadi Akdede
Economics Letters, forthcoming

The effects of diversity on democratization are investigated here. Ethnic fractionalization and polarization do not seem to affect democratization significantly, whereas religious fractionalization and polarization do affect democratization; countries with higher religious diversity experienced more democratization in the 1990s.


Hispanic Fertility, Religion and Religiousness in the U.S.

Charles Westoff & Emily Marshall
Population Research and Policy Review, forthcoming

Is the higher fertility of Hispanics in the United States due to their religion and/or to their greater religiousness? Evidence from national survey data indicates no difference in fertility between Protestant and Catholic Hispanic women but Hispanics are more religious than non-Hispanics in terms of the perceived importance of religion in their personal lives. Religiousness is associated with higher fertility but Hispanic fertility is higher than non-Hispanic fertility regardless of religion or religiousness. Ethnic differences in education and income in turn are more important for fertility than the religious dimension.


Compensatory Control: Achieving Order Through the Mind, Our Institutions, and the Heavens

Aaron Kay, Jennifer Whitson, Danielle Gaucher & Adam Galinsky
Current Directions in Psychological Science, October 2009, Pages 264-268

We propose that people protect the belief in a controlled, nonrandom world by imbuing their social, physical, and metaphysical environments with order and structure when their sense of personal control is threatened. We demonstrate that when personal control is threatened, people can preserve a sense of order by (a) perceiving patterns in noise or adhering to superstitions and conspiracies, (b) defending the legitimacy of the sociopolitical institutions that offer control, or (c) believing in an interventionist God. We also present evidence that these processes of compensatory control help people cope with the anxiety and discomfort that lacking personal control fuels, that it is lack of personal control specifically and not general threat or negativity that drives these processes, and that these various forms of compensatory control are ultimately substitutable for one another. Our model of compensatory control offers insight into a wide variety of phenomena, from prejudice to the idiosyncratic rituals of professional athletes to societal rituals around weddings, graduations, and funerals.


Identity and Government Funding in Christian Nonprofits

Christopher Scheitle
Social Science Quarterly, December 2009, Pages 816-833

Objectives: This article aims to understand if and how the expressed religious identity of Christian nonprofit organizations varies between those receiving and not receiving government funding and whether there is evidence that government funding produces such differences.

Methods: I utilize a content analysis of narratives provided on tax forms of 1,900 of the largest national and international Christian nonprofits based in the United States.

Results: Christian nonprofits receiving government funding are less likely to express a religious identity and tend to use more inclusive language when doing so. However, receiving government funding does not seem to be the direct cause of changes in expressed religious identity.

Conclusions: Differences in expressed religious identity might better be understood as the result of long-term changes that both alter the organization's identity and makes it more likely to acquire government funding.


Spiritual Abuse: An Additional Dimension of Abuse Experienced by Abused Haredi (Ultraorthodox) Jewish Wives

Nicole Dehan & Zipi Levi
Violence Against Women, November 2009, Pages 1294-1310

This article aims to conceptualize spiritual abuse as an additional dimension to physical, psychological, sexual, and economic abuse. Growing out of an interpretivist participatory action research study in a therapeutic Haredi (Jewish ultraorthodox) group of eight abused women, spiritual abuse has been defined as any attempt to impair the woman's spiritual life, spiritual self, or spiritual well-being, with three levels of intensity: (a) belittling her spiritual worth, beliefs, or deeds; (b) preventing her from performing spiritual acts; and (c) causing her to transgress spiritual obligations or prohibitions. The concept and its typology are illustrated by means of examples from the women's abusive experiences and may be of theoretical and therapeutic worldwide relevance.

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