Hail Mary, Mother of Midterms: Religion and the 2022 elections

Yet again, religion is set to play a major role in the 2022 U.S. midterms.

Around two years ago, journalists were sharpening our pencils and tapping at our keyboards, working on stories about President Joe Biden’s Catholic spirituality, faith-facts about Kamala Harris, and the persistent power of the U.S.’s white, evangelical voting bloc.

Two years later, religion remains a potent force in U.S. politics and is sure to shape the 2022 midterm elections.

Fallout from multiple Supreme Court decisions and results from recent primary elections have shaken up the prospects for candidates on both sides of the aisle. Changes in access to abortion services, questions around notions of religious liberty and dramatic decisions impacting the interpretation of the Constitution’s “Establishment Clause” are at the front of voters’ minds along with religious takes on the rising cost of living, climate change and crime rates.

In this edition of ReligionLink, you will find important background, relevant stories, and numerous experts to help you cover the 2022 midterms and their religion angle with balance, accuracy, and insight.

Background and research

The fact that religion and politics intersect is not news.

Be that as it may, the particular contours of those convergences are constantly in flux and informed by a multitude of evolving factors. Each election brings new angles and new stories to discover and report on.

To help reporters get up to speed, the resources below link to recent and relevant research and background information that will inform the 2022 elections. From white evangelicals to liberal Catholics, Muslims to pagans, these resources unpack contemporary trends and historical context that will shape the upcoming vote.

Related stories

The United States’ religio-political landscape is increasingly diverse and divisive.

From “sea to shining sea” are a wide range of political and religious perspectives and postures. Religion reporters have been on the job in recent weeks — and over the last few years — covering the breadth and depth of that environment.

Here is just a brief sampling of stories related to the upcoming elections, with a selection of reports focusing on local elections in Michigan, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Texas, New York and other states:

Experts and potential sources

  • Nancy T. Ammerman

    Nancy T. Ammerman is professor emerita of sociology of religion at Boston University, having served as chair of the department (2007-2013) and associate dean for the social sciences (2015-2018). Her research touches on aspects of “lived religion” in American religious life and conservative religious movements and on American religious organizations and their networks of social provision.

  • Lydia Bean

    Lydia Bean is a social scientist and nonprofit leader based in Texas. She is a fellow in the political reform program at New America. Bean was a 2020 Democratic candidate for the Texas House of Representatives and is the author of The Politics of Evangelical Identity. Contact via her website.

  • Angela Denker

    Angela Denker, a veteran journalist and Lutheran pastor, is author of Red State Christians: A Journey Into White Christian Nationalism and the Wreckage It Leaves Behind

  • Darren Dochuk

    Darren Dochuk is the Andrew V. Tackes College Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame. Dochuk’s research emphasis is on the intersections of religion, politics and the rising influence of the American West and Sunbelt Southwest in national life.

  • Faith and Justice

    A Beliefnet blog by Jay Sekulow, an expert on constitutional rights and religious liberties in the U.S.

  • Luis Ricardo Fraga

    Luis Ricardo Fraga is the Rev. Donald P. McNeill, C.S.C, Professor of Transformative Latino Leadership, Joseph and Elizabeth Robbie Professor of Political Science, director of the Institute for Latino Studies and fellow at the Institute for Educational Initiatives at the University of Notre Dame. He is the co-author of a manuscript in progress, Latinos and Religion in American Politics. 

  • Sabreena Ghaffar-Siddiqui

    Sabreena Ghaffar-Siddiqui is a media pundit, researcher and human rights advocate. Her sociological research focuses on the areas of migration, race/ethnicity, politics and ethno-religious diasporic identity.

  • Michelle Goldberg

    Michelle Goldberg is an op-ed columnist for The New York Times. She is also the author of Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism, which discusses “dominion theology,” which links Christianity and political governance.

  • Fredrick Cornelius Harris

    Fredrick Cornelius Harris is dean of social science and professor of political science at Columbia University. He also serves as director of the Center on African American Politics and Society.

  • Charles Haynes

    Charles C. Haynes is the founding director of the Religious Freedom Center at the Freedom Forum Institute. He writes and speaks extensively on religious freedom and faith in public life, specializing in church-state conflict related to public schools.

     

  • Elizabeth Shakman Hurd

    Elizabeth Shakman Hurd is a professor of political science at Northwestern University, with an emphasis on international relations, religion and politics, politics of secularism, law and religion, U.S. foreign relations; politics of the Middle East, methods in the study of religion and politics, contemporary religion, and the politics of religious freedom. She is also co-organizer of the Luce Politics of Religion at Home and Abroad initiative.

  • Geoffrey Layman

    Geoffrey Layman is chair of the political science department at the University of Notre Dame and co-editor of the journal Political Behavior. He wrote The Great Divide: Religious and Cultural Conflict in American Party Politics.

  • Gerardo Martí

    Gerardo Martí is a sociology professor at Davidson College, Davidson, North Carolina. He teaches about race and ethnic relations and is the author of A Mosaic of Believers: Diversity and Innovation in a Multiethnic Church. Martí is researching whether worship music matters for making congregations racially and ethnically diverse.

  • Jacob Neiheisel

    Jacob Neiheisel is an associate professor in the department of political science at University at Buffalo. Much of his research focuses on the effects of elite communication on members of the mass public, election administration, and religion in politics.

  • Samuel L. Perry

    Samuel L. Perry is associate professor of sociology at the University of Oklahoma. He is an expert on conservative Christianity and American politics, race, sexuality and families. He is the author or co-author of numerous books, including  Growing God’s FamilyAddicted to LustTaking America Back for God and The Flag and The Cross.

  • Mark Silk

    Mark Silk is director for the Leonard Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. Silk is also professor of religion in public life at Trinity. He is particularly knowledgeable about religious variances from one part of the country to another; his books include (as co-author) One Nation, Divisible: How Regional Religious Differences Shape American Politics.

  • Margaret Susan Thompson

    Margaret Susan Thompson is a political historian, with a focus on the 19th-century United States and, particularly, the Congress. Her first book, The ‘Spider Web’: Congress and Lobbying in the Age of Grant, reflects both her scholarly and hands-on experience, the latter as American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow.

  • Lauren Turek

    Lauren Turek is associate professor of history at Trinity University in San Antonio. Turek is a specialist in U.S. diplomatic history and American religious history and is the author of To Bring the Good News to All Nations: Evangelical Influence on Human Rights and U.S. Foreign Relations, which examines the growth and influence of Christian foreign policy lobbying groups in the United States beginning in the 1970s.

  • Ali A. Valenzuela

    Ali A. Valenzuela is an assistant professor of politics affiliated with the Program in Latino Studies and the Center for the Study of Democratic Politics, and co-founder of Politics Research in Experimental Social Sciences at Princeton University. His research focuses on race and racism in U.S. politics and campaigns; Latina/o/x attitudes, preferences and turnout in U.S. elections; immigration and demographic change in the U.S. and its political consequences; U.S. public opinion and voter behavior; as well as ethno-racial and religious identities in politics.

  • Robin Globus Veldman

    Robin Globus Veldman is a visiting scholar at Texas A&M University. She studies the relationship between religion and the environment, with a focus on American evangelicalism.

  • Kenneth Wald

    Kenneth Wald is a professor of political science at the University of Florida in Gainesville, where he also teaches on American Jewish culture and society. He wrote the book Religion and Politics in the United States.

  • Jay Wexler

    Jay Wexler is a law professor at Boston University who specializes in First Amendment issues, including religious expression in public schools and the public square. He speaks on church-state and other constitutional issues across the U.S. and internationally.

  • Andrew Whitehead

    Andrew Whitehead is an associate professor of sociology and director of the Association of Religion Data Archives at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. He researches the relationship between religion and other social forces, such as the family.  

  • J. Matthew Wilson

    J. Matthew Wilson is an associate professor of political science at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. His interests include religion and politics, and voting behavior of religious voters.

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