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.

State Politics Book Cover

“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.