Preaching from the White House: The Influence of Political Party Affiliation on Religious Signaling in National Presidential Addresses
thesisposted on 2019-08-01, 00:00 authored by Elizabeth M. Chambers
This study investigated the influence of political party affiliation on religious signaling in American presidential speech. The study took a census of the most recent 20 years of State of the Union addresses (1999 to 2018) and Inaugural addresses from the latest five presidents from each party. It then analyzed counts and frequencies of explicit and implicit religious words to compare the amount of religious signaling by political party. Results indicated Republican presidents use a greater amount of explicit religious signaling in State of the Union and Inaugural addresses than Democratic presidents. Republican presidents also use a greater amount of implicit religious signaling in Inaugural addresses; in these speeches there was no significant difference in implicit religious signaling by party. Implications of these results to civil religion, Burke’s theory of identification, and the schism between the religious-aligned Republican Party and unaffiliated/non-Christian aligned Democratic Party were discussed.