Despite the continued debate over the relationship between church and state in American politics, our understanding of the sources of attitudes on controversies over religious establishment and religious free exercise is limited. I argue that authoritarianism is an unrecognized but important predictor of mass-level attitudes on church and state. I argue that individuals with higher levels of authoritarianism are more likely to support religious establishment as a means of maintaining social conformity and reinforcing the existing social order. Likewise, those with higher levels of authoritarianism should exhibit reduced support for religious free exercise when minority groups are in question as a means of imposing greater costs on social out-groups. Using data from the 2008 Cooperative Campaign Analysis Project, I find strong support for my theory. Even after controlling for a variety of alternative explanations, authoritarianism remains an important factor in attitudes toward both religious establishment and religious free exercise.
Objectives Media effects research has generally ignored the possibility that popular films can affect political attitudes. This omission is puzzling for two reasons. First, research on public opinion finds the potential for persuasion is highest when respondents are unaware that political messages are being communicated. Second, multiple studies have found that entertainment media can alter public opinion. Together, this suggests that popular films containing political messages should possess the potential to influence attitudes. Methods We develop a laboratory experiment where subjects were randomly assigned to watch a control movie with no political messages, a movie with subtle political messages, or a movie with strong and explicit political messages. Results We find that popular movies possess the ability to change political attitudes, especially on issues that are unframed by the media. Furthermore, we show such influence persists over time and is not moderated by partisanship, ideology, or political knowledge. Conclusions Our key findings suggest that a renewed scholarly interest in the political influence of popular movies is clearly warranted. Adapted from the source document.