A study by a Monmouth College political science professor reveals politics is shaping more people’s religious choices.

“Church shopping” based on political beliefs is one of the findings of a recent research project by professor Andre Audette in collaboration with political science and data science double major Shay Hafner of Sterling, Illinois. They found 25% of those asked admitted they have considered leaving their church or religion because of political reasons.

“People are increasingly using politics as a reason for changing their religious identity and changing their congregation and house of worship they attend,” said Audette.

Audette notes the Presbyterian Church lost half its members in a 35-year period from 1983 to 2018.

Audette said politics and religion are not only separated theoretically through the U.S. Constitution, but some would argue through two entirely different spheres of thought. Most people are indoctrinated into religion by their parents as part of the worldview that’s ingrained in them.

Audette said it is the typical hot-button issues that are causing some people to go “church shopping.”

“I think a lot of this is driven by things like abortion, same-sex marriage, the traditional moral issues that we think of in this area,” said Audette.

In a sample of 2,000 respondents, 52% had shopped for a church, and that roughly a third had done so more than once.

“You think the music is horrible? You think the pastor is boring? Look elsewhere,” said Audette. “Brand loyalty is not as strong as it used to be.”

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