A paper published at the National Bureau of Economic Research has found a definite and measurable link between decreasing church attendance and decreasing voter turnout in elections.
From the abstract:
“Regular church attendance is strongly associated with a higher probability of voting. It is an open question as to whether this association, which has been confirmed in numerous surveys, is causal. We use the repeal of the laws restricting Sunday retail activity (‘Blue laws’) to measure the effects of church-going on political participation. The repeal of Blue Laws caused a 5 percent decrease in church attendance. We measure the effect of Blue Laws’ repeal on political participation and find that following the repeal turnout falls by approximately 1 percentage point. This turnout decline, which is statistically significant and fairly robust across model specifications, is consistent with the large effect of church attendance on turnout reported in the literature, and suggests that church attendance may have significant causal influence on voter turnout.”
Read the abstract here. You can buy a copy of the paper for $5 US if you’d like as well.
There’s a discussion of the paper on the Wall Street Journal’s website here. The discussion makes an interesting point that the decrease in church attendance might hit democrats harder since statistically speaking, church attendance is higher among lower-income voters (who have traditionally voted Democratic).