A Cultural Cognition Perspective on Religion Singularity: How Political Identity Influences Religious Affiliation
Kevin S. Seybold
Vol. 1, No. 1
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Kevin S. Seybold, Religion Singularity, Cultural Cognition, Politics, Group Identity, Ideology, Polarization
Kenneth Howard argues in his paper, “The Religion Singularity,” that institutional Christianity has experienced and will continue to experience an increase in the number of denominations and individual worship centers, which, along with a slower increase in the number of Christians in the US, will make institutional Christianity unsustainable in its current form. While there are, no doubt, many reasons why this religion singularity has or will take place, this paper examines the role of cultural cognition on the trends reported in Howard’s article. Cultural commitments and values, such as group membership and identity, influence the position individuals take on a variety of religious and political topics, which can then lead to polarization on these issues within the broader society. While we might expect that religious affiliations play an important role in determining a person’s political views, this article seeks to identify whether the reverse is also true, namely the extent to which political views affect an individual’s religious affiliation. This article reviews research that suggests the increasing political polarization in the United States over the past few decades has contributed, along with other factors, to the religion singularity reported by Howard.