Religion and Democratic Commitment: A Unifying Motivational Framework

Pazit Ben-Nun Bloom*, Gizem Arikan, Allon Vishkin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


There is no easy answer to the question of whether religiosity promotes or hinders commitment to democracy. Earlier research largely pointed to religiosity as a source of antidemocratic orientations. More recent empirical evidence is less conclusive, however, suggesting that the effect of religiosity on democratic commitment could be positive, negative, or null. We review the existing approaches to the study of religiosity and democratic commitment, focusing on support for the democratic system, political engagement, and political tolerance, by distinguishing accounts that examine a single dimension of religiosity from accounts that adopt a multidimensional approach. We show that multidimensional approaches, while effective in accounting for the effect of religiosity on discrete democratic norms, fall short of accounting for some of the inconsistencies in the literature and in identifying the mechanisms that may be responsible for shaping how religiosity affects endorsement of democratic norms as a whole. To fill this gap, we propose the Religious Motivations and Expressions (REME) model. Applying theories of goal constructs to religion, this model maps associations between three religious expressions (belief, social behavior, and private behavior) and the religious motivations that underly these expressions. We discuss how inconsistent associations between religiosity and elements of democratic commitment can be rendered interpretable once the motivations underlying religious expressions, as well as contextual information, are accounted for. We contend that applying goal constructs to religion is critical for understanding the nature of the religion-democracy nexus.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)75-108
Number of pages34
JournalPolitical Psychology
Issue numberS1
StatePublished - Dec 2021

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© 2021 The Authors. Political Psychology published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of International Society of Political Psychology


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