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Religion as a Stimulant of Political Participation: Experimental Evidence from Nairobi, Kenya

In this article we explore how certain religious messages may spur or constrain political participation. Specifically, we test whether religious messages that provide individuals a positive self-image can act as stimulants, giving people a sense of internal efficacy to participate in politics. We explore this hypothesis through a novel experimental design in Nairobi, Kenya. We find that exposure to self-affirmation messages typical of Pentecostal and Charismatic churches motivated participation in a political text message campaign. We discuss implications of these findings for politics in Sub-Saharan Africa, as well as for the study of religion and politics more generally.