My Research Agenda
My research investigates how ethno-religious identities shape elite decision-making. Initially I focused on decision-making in the U.S. Congress on cultural issues, such as LGBT rights and reproductive policy. In recent years, however, I have expanded the scope of my research in several ways.
- First, I have moved beyond cultural issues. Looking at food policy, agenda setting, and animal welfare, I am trying to show that religion influences legislative behavior in other domains, which suggests that its influence is vast—going well beyond the usual suspects.
- Second, I have adopted a broader conception of what it means to be an elite. Lately I have been studying clergy. While clergy provide political cues and facilitate mobilization, my collaborative work suggests that clergy are sensitive to parishioner and episcopal reaction to their political behavior.
- Finally, I have a keen interest in how marginalized groups are treated in democratic societies. My particular focus is on LGBT persons in the United States. This dovetails with my interest in religion, as the LGBT rights movement and the Religious Right emerged at roughly the same time and were very much rival social movements. I am currently completing a book manuscript with Jay Barth that investigates LGBT politics in the United States.