Separation of Church and Space: Religious Influences on Public Support for U.S. Space Exploration Policy
Despite growing interest in the relationship between religion and outer space, the influence of religion on space policy attitudes remains a mostly unexplored topic. This study fills this research gap by treating space exploration as a policy issue for examination by religion and politics theory. It uses data from the General Social Survey and three Pew surveys to construct several logistic regression models. Space policy support, the dependent variable, is operationalized in seven ways as the antecedents of policy views (i.e., space knowledge and interest), actual policy/funding views, and policy expectations. Religion, the key independent variable, is operationalized as belonging (tradition), behavior (church attendance), beliefs, and salience. In addition, one survey permits the identification of the nature of science messages espoused by clergy. The findings reveal that evangelical Protestants in the U.S. are the least supportive of space policy. However, evidence shows that pro-science messages from the pulpit can change evangelicals' perceptions of space exploration. The article concludes with calls for increased, concerted outreach to evangelicals and other religious publics by the space community. These efforts are essential if the American republic will pursue greater space exploration in the near future. Ultimately, religions must ensure their survival by embracing space.
Ambrosius, Joshua D., "Separation of Church and Space: Religious Influences on Public Support for U.S. Space Exploration Policy" (2015). Political Science Faculty Publications. 38.