Political identity switching and change in religiosity among students at a conservative Christian university.

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Research on university students’ religiosity concentrates on the effect of higher education on religious behavior and belief. Some of this effect may be due to higher education’s influence on political identity which – in a context of increased political polarization and expressive political identity – may impact religious commitment. Using longitudinal panel data from the Baylor Faith and Character Study, this study examines change in political identity and religiosity among students at a conservative Protestant university. Findings reveal changes in public and private religious behaviors, certainty in belief and their alignment with core tenets of the Christian faith, and spirituality and one’s relationship to the divine corresponding with shifting politics. While students who become more politically conservative increase their religiosity, the inverse is true for those whose politics liberalize.

Religion. Spirituality. Political identity. Affective polarization. Emerging adulthood.