Against the theoretical background of debates over secularization, my dissertation research focused on religion and politics. Specifically, I examined the role of religious lobbying organizations in the Wisconsin State Legislature and published several articles based on this work (listed below). Wanting to develop this line of research, I decided to expand my focus from Wisconsin to a national study of state legislatures, but also to narrow my focus to just one religious group: Catholics.
As I argue in my book, The Catholic Church in State Politics (Rowman & Littlefield, 2005), the political advocacy of the American Catholic Bishops at the state level is one of the Church’s best-kept secrets. I explain how the local Catholic advocacy organizations in thirty-three states and Washington, D.C. negotiate the tension between the prophetic demands of faith and the political realities of secular political institutions.
“Religion in the Legislative Arena: Affiliation, Salience, Advocacy, and Public Policy-Making,” with Elizabeth Oldmixon. Legislative Studies Quarterly 31 (August 2006):433-60.
“Religious Advocacy in the Wisconsin Statehouse,” pp. 151-76 in Edward Cleary, ed., Representing God at the Statehouse: Religion and Politics in the American States. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2006
“Representing Catholicism in the Statehouses,” American Catholic Studies Newsletter 31 (Spring 2004):1, 7-10. (Published by the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism, University of Notre Dame).
“The Bishops and Politics,” Commonweal (23 May 2003): 17-20.
“Naked Public Square or Crumbling Wall of Separation? Evidence from Legislative Hearings in Wisconsin.”Review of Religious Research 42 (December 2000):175-92.
“Faith and Access: Personal Religiosity and Religious Group Advocacy in a State Legislature.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 38 (December 1999):543‑50.
“Secularization on Trial: In Defense of a Neo-Secularization Paradigm.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 36 (March 2007):107-20.