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Religion, Religiosity, and Attitudes Toward Immigrants: The Influence of American Mainline Religions on Sociopolitical Attitudes Open Access

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The growth in recent decades of less traditionally religious groups has inspired a reevaluation of the effect of religious tradition and religiosity on sociopolitical attitudes, particularly attitudes toward immigrants. Additionally, the historic increase in Mexican and Central American immigrants to the U.S. has fixed national attention on immigration reform. Despite a consensus concerning the need for immigration reform in the U.S., existing literature, surveys, and public commentary have shown that issues of immigration foster atypical patterns of support and opposition, particularly among religious groups. As a result, research examining the effects of religious tradition and religiosity on attitudes toward immigrants has yielded contradictory results. Using data from the 2004 General Social Survey, the author aims to construct a more nuanced theoretical framework that distinguishes between the effects of religious tradition and religiosity on attitudes toward immigrants. Among the most notable findings are that members of less traditionally religious groups, those with lower religiosity, and more highly educated respondents have more positive attitudes toward immigrants, while greater perceived economic and cultural threats posed by immigrants create more negative attitudes. The author also finds that religiosity has different effects on attitudes toward immigrants for Black Protestants compared to white Evangelical Protestants. Additional findings and their implications are discussed.

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