Does a religious leader who is significantly more liberal or conservative than his congregation bring their views more in line with his? Or are churches more like markets, where congregants attend a place of worship that best reflects their worldview? The data suggests both can be true: Clergy influence the views of their congregants, but they also represent the communities where they serve.
“They’re like members of Congress,” Mr. Hersh said. “They have constituents, but they’re also expected to lead.”
Historically, researchers have found that churchgoers do not want to hear political messages from the pulpit. “Religious people do not always adopt the political cues given to them in church,” said Gregory Smith, a researcher at the Pew Research Center who specializes in religion. “That’s just not how it works.”
Kevin Quealy, “Your Rabbi? Probably a Democrat. Your Baptist Pastor? Probably a Republican. Your Priest? Who Knows.”, The New York Times (12 June 2017) [https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/06/12/upshot/the-politics-of-americas-religious-leaders.html]