27 Pages Posted: 31 Aug 2011
Date Written: August 29, 2011
Clergy are political elites. This much is clear. However, direct evidence linking clergy behavior to political belief and action by religious publics has been elusive. This is actually not surprising given that clergy are often situated in complex institutional contexts with myriad group and interpersonal pressures to navigate on a regular basis. As the clergy politics literature moves away from reliance on the overly broad religious tradition framework, new opportunities to gain unprecedented insight on how previously under-emphasized causal factors and research methods may enhance our understanding of clergy as political elites become apparent. We use this paper to advance three familiar, but underutilized, tools to explain clergy political opinion formation. The first is application of the clergy professional fatigue literature to an inherently political outcome. The second is the use of experimental design in the study of clergy politics. The third is the location of our investigation among clergy in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Our results confirm findings from a growing trend of clergy scholarship that emphasizes the influence of personal and institutional factors beyond political preferences in explaining clergy political opinion.
Keywords: Religion, Clergy, Ireland
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