Two university researchers say voting in or near churches can affect the decisions people make.
Jordan LaBouff, a psychology professor at the University of Maine, and Wade Rowatt, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor University, studied religiously diverse areas in the Netherlands and England. Their study, which was published in the International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, found that voting in or near a church pulls voters in a more conservative direction.
“These data demonstrate that people in religious contexts expressed more conservative attitudes and more negative attitudes toward a variety of non-Christian groups,” LaBouff told The Christian Post. “More research is needed to examine the direct relationship between polling context and voting behavior across social issues, political issues and potential candidates.”
In a Baylor press release, Rowatt said, “The important finding here is that people near a religious building reported slightly but significantly more conservative social and political attitudes than similar people near a government building.
“In a close election,” he continued, “the place where people vote – a school, a church, a government building – could affect the outcome. For example, a higher percentage of people voting in a church instead of a school might vote for a conservative candidate or proposition.”
Rowatt noted that other studies have found a similar effect. A 2008 Stanford University study of an Arizona school funding referendum showed that people who voted in schools were more likely to support a tax increase than were those who cast ballots in churches or community centers.
Americans United and other organizations have expressed concern about the use of houses of worship as polling places.