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Religion, Communication, and Social Capital
Unformatted Document Text:  Religion, Communication, and Social Capital --10-- H1d: Religion’s cognitive dimension will have an indirect negative effect on political trust through other endogenous variables. Denominational Influences. Denominational affiliation also is likely to link significantly to indicators of social capital. The key denominational affiliations of interest in this study are white evangelical Protestants and white mainline Protestants, based on contentions that the dramatic shift in membership over the past two decades away from mainline Protestant churches towards an increase in membership at more religiously conservative evangelical Protestant churches has amounted to an overall negative influence on social capital (Greenburg, 2000; Putnam, 2000). Scholars have provided multiple reasons for this expected negative impact. Based on field observation, Greenburg (2000) characterizes evangelicals as preferring within-church activities and efforts at proselyzation to community involvement. Uslaner (2000), in his criticism of religion for its ability to foster in-group trust, alleges that the higher levels of doctrinal commitment and church involvement that are unique to evangelicals (see Leege and Kellstedt, 1993, for an overview), likely serve to further promote in-group trust at the expense of generalized trust. Specific to communication processes that might provide an indirect link to indicators of social capital, nearly two decades ago, Gerbner et al. (1984) were the first to call attention to the movement among white evangelical Protestants to create a sort of “rival public sphere” by establishing private broadcasting networks and other forms of media with contexts that attract small numbers of like-minded religious viewers. Today, the evangelical public sphere —

Authors: Nisbet, Matthew., Moy, Patricia. and Scheufele, Dietram.
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Religion, Communication, and Social Capital
--10--
H1d: Religion’s cognitive dimension will have an indirect negative effect on political
trust through other endogenous variables.
Denominational Influences. Denominational affiliation also is likely to link significantly
to indicators of social capital. The key denominational affiliations of interest in this study are
white evangelical Protestants and white mainline Protestants, based on contentions that the
dramatic shift in membership over the past two decades away from mainline Protestant churches
towards an increase in membership at more religiously conservative evangelical Protestant
churches has amounted to an overall negative influence on social capital (Greenburg, 2000;
Putnam, 2000).
Scholars have provided multiple reasons for this expected negative impact. Based on
field observation, Greenburg (2000) characterizes evangelicals as preferring within-church
activities and efforts at proselyzation to community involvement. Uslaner (2000), in his
criticism of religion for its ability to foster in-group trust, alleges that the higher levels of
doctrinal commitment and church involvement that are unique to evangelicals (see Leege and
Kellstedt, 1993, for an overview), likely serve to further promote in-group trust at the expense of
generalized trust.
Specific to communication processes that might provide an indirect link to indicators of
social capital, nearly two decades ago, Gerbner et al. (1984) were the first to call attention to the
movement among white evangelical Protestants to create a sort of “rival public sphere” by
establishing private broadcasting networks and other forms of media with contexts that attract
small numbers of like-minded religious viewers. Today, the evangelical public sphere —


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