Legislative behavior, religion, foreign policy, U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Congress


Recent literature in the religion and politics area has focused on the effect of various measures of religious affiliation on the political behavior of the mass public. Here we add to the evolving literature examining the influence of religious orientation on political elite behavior, focusing on the U.S. House of Representatives. Method.  We use data on the religious affiliations of U.S. House members and National Journal scores of foreign policy voting to test the influence of religion on foreign policy ideology from 1998-2003. Our findings indicate that even after controlling for traditional political factors, religious identity influenced foreign policy voting in the House. African-American Protestants, Latter-day Saints (Mormons), and Evangelical Protestants present the most distinctive patterns. Conclusions. From this analysis we see further indications that religion influences legislative behavior in a way that, although intertwined with political partisanship, appears distinct from traditional political factors.


Allen, John L., Jr., Vatican Will not Support American War on Iraq, National Catholic Reporter September 20, 2002, Retrieved August 28, 2009, from

Barker, David C., Jon Hurwitz, and Traci L. Nelson, Of Crusades and Culture Wars: ‘Messianic’ Militarism and Political Conflict in the United States, Journal of Politics 70(2), 2008.

Barone, Michael, and Richard E. Cohen, The Almanac of American Politics, Washington, DC: National Journal Group, 1998-2003 editions.

Baumgartner, Jody C., Peter L. Francia, and Jonathan S. Morris, A Clash of Civilizations? The Influence of Religion on Public Opinion of U.S. Foreign Policy in the Middle East, Political Research Quarterly 61(2), 2008.

Beck, Nathaniel, and Jonathan N. Katz, What to Do (and Not to Do) with Time-Series Cross Section Data, American Political Science Review 89(3), 1995.

Bishin, Benjamin G., Constituency Influence in Congress: Does Subconstituency Matter?, Legislative Studies Quarterly 25(3), 2000.

Bullock, Charles S. III, and David W. Brady, Party, Constituency, and Roll-Call Voting in the U.S. Senate, Legislative Studies Quarterly 8(1), 1983.

Burden, Barry C., Personal Roots of Representation, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007.

Catholic News Service.n.d. “Pope Warns Against War.”Retrieved August 31, 2009, from

Cann, Damon M., Religious Identification and Legislative Voting: The Mormon Case, Political Research Quarterly 62(1), 2009.

Collins, Todd, Kenneth A. Wink, James L. Guth, and C. Don Livingston, The Religious Affiliation of Representatives and Support for Funding the Iraq War, Politics and Religion 4(3), 2011.

Conover, Pamela Johnston, and Virginia Sapiro, Gender, Feminist Consciousness, and War, American Journal of Political Science 37(4), 1993.

Cox, Gary W., and Mathew D. McCubbins, Legislative Leviathan: Party Government in the House, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993.

D’Antonio, William V., Steven A. Tuch, and Josiah R. Baker, Religion, Politics, and Polarization: How Religiopolitical Conflict Is Changing Congress and American Democracy, Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2013.

Fenno, Richard F., Jr., Home Style: House Members in Their Districts, Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1978.

Garand, James C., Income Inequality, Party Polarization, and Roll-Call Voting in the U.S. Senate, Journal of Politics 72(4), 2010.

Gelpi, Christopher and Peter D. Feaver, Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick? Veterans in the Political Elite and the American Use of Force, American Political Science Review 96(4), 2002.

Glad, Betty. 2009. An Outsider in the White House: Jimmy Carter, His Advisors, and the Making of American Foreign Policy. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Greenberg, Anna, and Kenneth D. Wald, Still Liberal After All These Years? The Contemporary Political Behavior of American Jewry, in: L. Sandy Maisel and Ira N. Forman, eds., Jews in American Politics, Lanham, MD:Rowman and Littlefield, 2001.

Gushee, David, The Future of Faith in American Politics: The Public Witness of theEvangelical Center, Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2008.

Guth, James L., Religion and Roll Calls: Religious Influences on the U.S. House of Representatives, 1997-2002, Presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Chicago, 2007.

Guth, James L., Religion and American Public Opinion: Foreign Policy Issues, in: Corwin E. Smidt, Lyman A. Kellstedt, and James L. Guth, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Religion and American Politics, New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.

Guth, James L., Militant and Cooperative Internationalism Among American Religious Publics, Presented at the Annual BISA Working Group Conference on US Foreign Policy, University of East Anglia, Norwich, 2009.

Guth, James L., The Religious Roots of Foreign Policy Exceptionalism, The Review of Faith & International Affairs 10(2), 2012.

Guth, James L., John C. Green, Corwin E. Smidt, Lyman A. Kellstedt, and Margaret M. Poloma, The Bully Pulpit: The Politics of Protestant Clergy, Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1997.

Hero, Alfred O., American Religious Groups View Foreign Policy: Trends in Rank-and-File Opinion, 1937-1969, Durham: Duke University Press, 1973.

Hershey, Marjorie R., Party Politics in America, 15th ed. Boston: Pearson, 2013.

Hertzke, Allen, Freeing God’s Children: The Unlikely Alliance for Global Human Rights, Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield, 2004.

Hoge, Dean R., Benton Johnson and Donald A. Luidens, Vanishing Boundaries: The Religion of Mainline Protestant Baby Boomers, Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1994.

Huntington, Samuel, Who Are We? The Challenges to America’s National Identity, New York: Simon and Schuster, 2004.

Inboden, William, Religion and American Foreign Policy, 1945-1960: The Soul of Containment, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

Jacobsmeier, Matthew, Religion and Perceptions of Candidates’ Ideologies in United States House Elections, Politics and Religion 6(2), 2013.

Johnstone, Ronald L., Religion in Society: A Sociology of Religion, 3rd ed. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1988.

Kellstedt, Lyman, and James L. Guth, Religious Groups as a Force in American Party Politics, in: William Crotty, ed. Party Polarization in the United States (Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 2013, in press).

Kengor, Paul, God and Ronald Reagan: A Political Life, New York: Regan Books, 2004.

Kingdon, John W., Models of Legislative Voting, Journal of Politics 39(3), 1977.

Kingdon, John W., Congressmen’s Voting Decisions, 3rded. New York: Harper & Row, 1989.

Kohut, Andrew, John C. Green, Scott Keeter, and Robert C. Toth, The DiminishingDivide: Religion’s Changing Role in American Politics, Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2000.

Kratchovil, Peter, The Religious Turn in IR: A Brief Assessment, Perspectives: Review of International Affairs 17(2), 2009.

Layman, Geoffrey C., The Great Divide: Religious and Cultural Conflict in American Party Politics, New York: Columbia University Press, 2001.

Leege, David C., and Lyman A. Kellstedt, eds., Rediscovering the Religious Factor in American Politics, Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1993.

Marsden, Lee, For God’s Sake: The Christian Right and US Foreign Policy, New York: Zed Books, 2008.

Marsh, Charles, Wayward Christian Soldiers, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.

Marx, Karl, Toward a Critique of Hegel’s ‘Philosophy of Right’: Introduction, in: DavidMcLellan, ed., Karl Marx: Selected Writings. London: Oxford University Press, 1977.

Merkley, Paul Charles, American Presidents, Religion and Israel, Westport CT: Praeger, 2004.

Miller, Warren E., and Donald E. Stokes, Constituency Influence in Congress, American Political Science Review 57(1), 1963.

National Journal. 2013. “2012 Vote Ratings: How the Vote Ratings are Calculated.”, February 19, 2013. Downloaded June 17, 2013.

Nincic, Miroslav, and Donna J. Nincic, Race, Gender, and War, Journal of Peace Research 39(5), 2002.

Nisbet, Robert, The Sociology of Emile Durkheim, New York: Oxford University Press, 1974.

Oldmixon, Elizabeth, Religion and Legislative Politics, in: Corwin E. Smidt, Lyman A. Kellstedt, and James L. Guth, eds. Handbook of Religion and American Politics, New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.

Oldmixon, Elizabeth, and William Hudson, When Church Teachings and Policy Commitments Collide: Perspectives on Catholics in the U.S. House of Representatives, Politics and Religion 1(1), 2008.

Olson, Laura, and Adam L. Warber, Belonging, Behaving, and Believing: Assessing the Role of Religion on Presidential Approval, Political Research Quarterly 61(2), 2008.

Oren, Michael B., Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present, New York: Norton, 2007.

Patterson, Samuel C., and Gregory A. Caldeira, Party Voting in the United States Congress, British Journal of Political Science 18(1), 1988.

Phillips, Kevin, American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century, New York: Viking, 2006.

Poole, Keith T. and Howard Rosenthal, Congress – A Political-Economic History of Roll Call Voting, New York: Oxford University Press, 1977. (data available at

Preston, Andrew, Sword of the Spirit, Shield of Faith: Religion in American War and Diplomacy, New York: Knopf, 2012.

Quinley, Harold, The Prophetic Clergy: Social Activism Among Protestant Ministers, New York: Wiley, 1974.

Rocca, Michael S., Gabriel R. Sanchez, and Ron Nikora, The Role of Personal Attributes in African-American Roll-Call Voting Behavior in Congress., Political Research Quarterly 62(2), 2009.

Rock, Stephen, Faith and Foreign Policy: The Views and Influence of U.S. Christians and Christian Organizations, New York: Continuum, 2011.

Rosenson, Beth, Elizabeth Oldmixon, and Kenneth Wald, U.S. Senators’ Support for Israel Examined Through Sponsorship/Co-sponsorship, 1993-2002: The Influence of Elite and Constituency Factors, Foreign Policy Analysis 5(1), 2009.

Rozell, Mark J., and Clyde Wilcox, Second Coming: The Strategies of the New Christian Right, Political Science Quarterly 111(2), 1996.

Sagan, Scott D., More Will Be Worse, in: Scott D. Sagan and Kenneth N. Waltz, eds., The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: A Debate Renewed. New York: Norton, 2003.

Smidt, Corwin E., Lyman A. Kellstedt, and James L. Guth, The Role of Religion in American Politics: Explanatory Theories and Associated Analytical and Measurement Issues, in: Corwin E. Smidt, Lyman A. Kellstedt, and James L. Guth, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Religion and American Politics. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.

Smith, Lauren E., Laura R. Olson, and Jeffrey A. Fine, Substantive Religious Representation in the U.S. Senate: Voting Alignment with the Family Research Council, Political Research Quarterly 63(1), 2010.

Sokhey, Anand, and Paul A. Djupe, Rabbi Engagement with the Peace Process in the Middle East, Social Science Quarterly 87(4), 2006.

Spiegel, Steven L., Israel and Beyond: American Jews and U.S. Foreign Policy, in: L. Sandy Maisel and Ira N. Forman, eds., Jews in American Politics, Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2001.

Steensland, Brian, Jerry Z. Park, Mark D. Regnerus, Lynn D. Robinson, W. Bradford Wilcox, and Robert D. Woodberry, The Measure of American Religion:Toward Improving the State of the Art, Social Forces 79(1), 2000.

Tipton, Steven M., Public Pulpits: Methodists and Mainline Churches in the Moral Argument of Public Lif,. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007.

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. November 13, 2002. “Statement onIraq.”RetrievedAugust 28, 2009, from

Uscinski, Joseph, Michael S. Rocca, Gabriel R. Sanchez, and Marina Brendan, Congress and Foreign Policy: Congressional Action on the Darfur Genocide, PS : Political Science and Politics 42(3), 2009.

Uslaner, Eric, American Interests in the Balance: Do Ethnic Groups Dominate Foreign Policy Making?, in: Allan J. Cigler and Burdett Loomis, eds., Interest Group Politics, 7th ed. Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2007.

Wald, Kenneth, Religious Elites and Public Opinion: The Impact of the Bishops' Peace Pastoral, The Review of Politics 54(1), 1992.

Walt, Stephen M., The Search for a Science of Strategy: A Review Essay, International Security 12(1), 1987.

Walt, Stephen M., International Relations: One World, Many Theories, Foreign Policy 110(Spring), 1998.

Whitby, Kenny J., and George A. Krause, Race, Issue Heterogeneity and Public Policy: The Republican Revolution in the 104th Congress and the Representation of African-American Policy Interests, British Journal of Political Science 31(3), 2001.

Wilcox, Clyde, Onward Christian Soldiers? The Religious Right in American Politics, Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1996.

Wittkopf, Eugene R., On the Foreign Policy Beliefs of the American People: A Critique and Some Evidence, International Studies Quarterly 30(4), 1986.

Wittkopf, Eugene R., and Michael A. Maggiotto, Elites and Masses: A Comparative Analysis of Attitudes Toward America’s World Role, Journal of Politics 45(2), 1983.




How to Cite

Collins, T., Wink, K. A., Guth, J. L., & Livingston, C. D. (2022). THE CHURCH AND CONGRESS: RELIGIOUS AFFILIATIONS AND FOREIGN POLICY VOTING IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. Politics and Religion Journal, 7(2), 345–371.