Catholic and Protestant conservatives: Structures of gender ideology in the formation of opinions regarding the responsibility of poverty
Scholarly writing is inconclusive as to whether religious conservatives are also socially and politically conservative. Research has been done with respect to religious conservatives' dogma, family values, and gender relations in association with their political attitudes and behavior. This study however, investigates the association between the structure of the conservatives' religious beliefs and their ideologies about morals and gender relations and how this association translates into views about the causes of poverty.
This study accounts for the comparison of Catholic and Protestant religious dogma and moral ideologies on the one hand and views about the reasons for poverty on the other, in a new perspective. The association between dogma, moral ideology and economic attitudes is framed in the concept of ahistorical religiosity. This concept maintains that Catholic and Protestant conservatives' moral values, as the major component of their religious world views, are ahistorical and based on distinct ideological structures. The perspective of ahistorical religiosity proposes that Protestants' moral values are based on a hierarchical gender ideology while Catholics' moral values are based on sexual morality.
This project was carried out through a survey method. Data was collected by distributing questionnaires to Catholic and Protestant churches and Right to Life pregnancy organizations, where volunteers for participation in the study were searched for and located. The churches and pregnancy organizations to which the surveys were distributed are all located in mid-Michigan.
This study finds that Catholic conservatives' sexual morality is associated with their abortion attitudes. It is then their abortion attitudes that are linked to their ahistorical religiosity. For Protestant conservatives, their gender ideology, in addition to their abortion attitudes, is linked to their frequency of Bible reading, and it is the frequency of Bible reading that is associated with their ahistorical religiosity.
In addition this study reveals that both Protestant and Catholic conservatives have the opinion that individualist responsibility is the cause for poverty - as against structural and political causes. Neither Protestants or Catholics' views about the causes for poverty are mediated through their ahistorical religion, though; but in the case of the Protestant conservatives, their views about the individualist causes of poverty are associated with their hierarchical gender ideology. In relation to the Catholic conservatives, it is their sexual morality that is associated with their views about the individualist responsibility for poverty.