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In God We Act: Exposure to the Prosperity Gospel as a Stimulant of Political Participation Open Access

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Research has shown that the politically relevant values and cues provided by religious messages influence adherents’ political attitudes. Yet, there has been little empirical analysis of how explicitly self-affirming religious messages such as those typical of the growing prosperity gospel movement affect political outcomes. I explore how religious messages typical of the prosperity gospel movement and the Protestant social gospel affect individuals’ internal efficacy, vote intention, political ideology and partisan affinities and how these effects vary by religious affiliation, prior partisanship and political knowledge. Employing an online experimental design, I find that exposure to messages typical of the self-affirming prosperity gospel have no effect on participants’ internal political efficacy and have a dampening effect on vote intention. Contributing to the body of research examining the political effects of non-political messages, I also find evidence that religious messages that provide politically relevant cues that are incongruent to one’s prior partisanship may be uncritically accepted, even by high-political knowledge individuals. I discuss implications for political communication research and suggest avenues for future research.

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