Culture and Dis-Integration: Religion and the Brexit Vote

Thursday, July 13, 2017
John McIntyre - Room 201 (University of Glasgow)
Brent F Nelsen , Political Science, Furman University
James L Guth , Political Science, Furman University
Scholars have known for some time that religion, more precisely “confessional culture,” exerts a deep and independent effect on attitudes toward the European Union and the formation of a European identity. In this paper we use several recent surveys of British respondents to demonstrate the impact of religion on the June 2016 vote to leave the EU. One of the data sets used in the study features an unusually detailed religious identity question that allows us to analyze the impact of Protestant denomination on the Brexit vote.

The findings of the paper are consistent with the results of past studies. Protestants remain less enthusiastic about European integration than other religious traditions, with sectarian Protestants most resistant to the EU. Religious divisions, however, remains complicated and must be interpreted carefully.  The primary implication for the future of European integration, however, is clear: the EU member states most likely to withdraw from the EU or strongly resist further integrative efforts will be member states shaped by Protestant confessional culture.

  • CES Paper.docx (113.8 kB)