A Look at the Excessive Hypothesis of the Pharisee Effect: The "Ten Commandments Judge" in the Alabama Republican Primary

By Powell, Larry; Neiva, Eduardo et al. | North American Journal of Psychology, June 2008 | Go to article overview

A Look at the Excessive Hypothesis of the Pharisee Effect: The "Ten Commandments Judge" in the Alabama Republican Primary


Powell, Larry, Neiva, Eduardo, Fuller, Jessica, North American Journal of Psychology


The Pharisee Effect is a phenomenon that occurs when religious appeals in political disputes go too far, thus leading to a backlash and voter rejection of the candidate. This study analyzed the unsuccessful 2006 Alabama gubernatorial campaign of Roy Moore--the "Ten Commandments Judge"--whose campaign relied heavily on religious-based arguments. Moore's reliance on religious appeals was the basis of his candidacy in the Alabama Republican Primary. However, this paper argues that Moore pushed his religious appeals too far; thus his religiosity was not an effective basis for a politically persuasive strategy. Further, applying concepts of game theory, this paper argues that religiosity contributed to the defeat of Moore because of the excessiveness hypothesis of the Pharisee Effect, i.e., he exceeded audience expectations regarding the role of religious arguments in politics. Moore's unsuccessful gubernatorial campaign suggested there are limits to personal religion as an element for a political strategy, while supporting the contention that excessive use of religious appeals can work against a candidate.

**********

Scholars have focused considerable attention on the role of religion in American politics, sparked no doubt by the documented successes that many candidates (particularly Republicans) had when they anchored their campaign around religious themes (Cohen, 2004; Giroux, 2005; Kriegel, 1996). The relationship of religion and politics is not really new. Edel (1987) noted that religion has played a role in American politics that goes back to the founding of the nation. Meacham (2006) and Holmes (2006) argued that religion was a major issue for the founding fathers. Darsey (1997) argued that the relationship goes back even further to "the belief of the early Puritan settlers that America was the New Israel, God's new Chosen People" (p. 39). Gaustad (1987) argued that the founding fathers viewed religion as playing a major role in preserving the social mores of the new nation. The Christian Bible, in particular, has had a major influence on the life of the nation (Miller, 1956; Tuveson, 1968) and on the nation's public discourse (Johnson, 1985; Sandeen, 1982).

More recently, evangelical Christians have been identified as an important force in political campaigns (Balmer, 2000). Ronald Reagan was perhaps the first modern Republican to see the political possibilities of these voters (Moen, 1990); since then, the political influence of the Christian Right grew and became a significant factor among Republican voters (Green & Guth, 1988; Wilcox, 1989). This influence was aided by the political activities of individuals like Jerry Falwell who used his Moral Majority organization in the 1980s to support political candidates--mostly Republicans--viewed as having a pro-Christian-God agenda (Harding, 2000; Kellstedt, Green, Guth & Smidt, 1994; Oldfield, 1996; Perkin, 2000; Regnerus & Sikkink,1999; Wilcox, 1988) and supporting legislative initiatives reflecting a pro-Christian-God agenda (Feld, Rosier & Manning, 2002; Yamane, 1999). That role was duplicated by other groups and individuals, including Pat Robertson's 700 Club, NCPAC, and the current Christian Coalition (Johnson & Tamney, 1984; Kater, 1982; Kitchens & Powell, 1986; Martin, 1996; Penning, 1994). Religious groups have also been active in state primaries (McConkey & Hickman, 1997; Rozell & Wilcox, 1998), congressional campaigns (Green & Guth, 1993) and presidential elections (Manza & Brooks, 1997). Further, an increasing number of Protestant ministers have become more willing to speak to their congregations on political topics (Guth, et al., 2003), while others have turned to mobilization ("get-out-the-vote") campaigns (Green, Rozell & Wilcox, 2001; Guth, Kellstedt, Smidt & Green, 1998) or running for local offices such as school boards (Deckman, 2001; Detwiler, 2000). During the Clinton administration, religious conservatives were strong critics of the president's program and moral lapses (Bruce, 1998, 2000; Penning, 1994). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

A Look at the Excessive Hypothesis of the Pharisee Effect: The "Ten Commandments Judge" in the Alabama Republican Primary
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.