My book, From Politics to the Pews, challenges the widespread assumption in American politics that core social identities shape politics but are, themselves, largely impervious to political influence. I do this by looking at religion, an identity whose political relevance is routinely discussed in both academic and non-academic circles. My book demonstrates that individuals' partisan identities profoundly shape their engagement in the religious sphere. I refute the claim that America's current polarization is solely the product of religious sorting into the political parties, with seculars supporting the Democrats and the devout joining the Republican ranks. Instead, I show that partisans also help produce this religious-political polarization, as Democrats select out of organized religion and Republicans select into it. A more detailed description of my book is available here.
The book is available for purchase through the University of Chicago Press and Amazon.
“There are no other books like From Politics to the Pews, with its original and persuasive argument that the relationship between political partisanship and religious identity is a reciprocal one. Margolis has added much to the research on partisan conflict and polarization." Robert Y. Shapiro, Columbia University
“Anyone interested in the outsized role played by religion in American politics should read this book. So should anyone who doubts that politics and religion are deeply intertwined, as it will put those doubts to rest. In analyzing the connections, Margolis flips conventional wisdom on its head. Rather than the common assumption that religious beliefs shape people’s political views, she brilliantly demonstrates that for many Americans, their political views shape their religious identity. Quite simply, this book sets a new standard for the study of religion and politics—theoretically rich, empirically innovative, and beautifully written.” David E. Campbell, University of Notre Dame
"From Politics to the Pews is a work of genuine, startling insight. Margolis presents a bracing account of how partisan identities, acquired in our youth, can shape our deepest convictions about faith in our later adult lives. This is a bravura debut that showcases both theoretical spark and technical mastery." Taeku Lee, University of California, Berkeley