Posted 13/6/2008 17:49 (#53) Subject: Religiosity and attitudes towards religion
We propose to include a number of items measuring citizens’ religiosity and their attitudes towards (different) religion(s). Extant research on support for European integration suggests that religious factors are of (increasing) importance as explanatory factors and we believe that the inclusion of the proposed items will further our understanding of the relationship between religion and religiosity and attitudes towards European integration.
Religious denomination and religiosity appear to be of continuing importance as predictors of political attitudes (e.g., Duriez et al., 2002). The religious-secular divide is (still) among the most important political cleavages in a number of European countries (e.g., Minkenberg, 2008; Elff, 2007) and voting behavior is still influenced to a significant degree by denomination and religiosity (e.g., Broughton and ten Napel, 2000).
The relationship between religion and euroscepticism is such that religious people may be guided in their (political) choices by their religious convictions, and they may be influenced by institutional expectations, political elites and representatives from their religions. This is an influence of individuals’ religious denomination and religiosity itself. Extant research suggests that religiosity affects public attitudes towards the EU (Nelson, Guth, & Fraser, 2001; Nelson & Guth, 2003; Hagevi, 2002). Extant research is focused on long standing members of the EU only and does not consider whether and to what degree the role of religion and religiosity might differ for different religious contexts, such as the overall religious context in a country, the dominant religion or religious fragmentation. The inclusion of items measuring religious denomination and different aspects of religiosity will enable researchers to more thoroughly understand the role of religion in explaining euroscepticism and also voting behavior in the 2009 EPE (Kotler-Berkowitz, 2001).
Attitudes towards (other) religion(s) are a factor that has not been addressed with regard to EU attitudes in prior research. If indeed “European integration was an act of the political imagination of Christian Democracy” (Thomas, 2005: 167) and European integration is even seen as a process that revitalizes religion as a political force (Greeley, 2000), then not only individuals’ religiosity but also their stance towards religion as such could explain support for European integration. Furthermore, citizens’ opinion about Islam can be expected to strongly relate to support for Turkish accession to the EU (see proposal C. de Vries). Therefore we propose two items that tap citizens’ general attitude towards religion and their attitude towards Islam specifically.
Items would include some adaptation of the following:
• Do you consider yourself as belonging to any particular religion or denomination?
• Regardless of whether you belong to a particular religion, how religious would you say you are?
• Apart from special occasions such as weddings and funerals, about how often do you attend religious services nowadays?
• Apart from when you are at religious services, how often, if at all, do you pray?
• Do you think that, generally speaking, the role of religion in [COUNTRY] is bad or good?
• Suppose Muslims wanted to build a mosque in your neighbourhood. Would this bother you or would you welcome it?