Jeremiah Castle's Research in Progress

Below are the details on my current research projects.  If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at Thanks!

"Religion, Partisanship, and Polarization on Cultural Issues in the United States: A Reassessment" (co-authored with Kyla Stepp, revise & resubmit)

Researchers have debated the extent of polarization in the United States, as well as what role (if any) religion plays in that polarization.  However, much of the existing literature uses inadequate measures of polarization that do not allow us to gauge the depth of disagreement between the two sides.  This article studies opinion on four cultural issues (abortion, same-sex marriage, the teaching of Intelligent Design in public schools, and the display of the Ten Commandments on government property) using a recently developed measure of issue polarization that allows us to assess the "depth" of the divide between issue attitudes.  Relying on data from an original survey fielded in fall 2018, we find evidence that a sizeable minority of the population holds polarized views on each issue. In addition, we find that religious tradition, religious commitment, and partisanship are strong predictors of individual-level polarization.  Finally, using data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study Panel (2010-2014), we show that changes in religious and partisan identities were consistent predictors of changes in attitudes on abortion and same-sex marriage.  Our findings help clarify academic debates about the origins and extent of the culture wars by demonstrating that a sizeable minority of the public holds polarized views on cultural issues and both religious and partisan identities are important factors in that polarization. 

"The Effect of the #MeToo Movement on Political Engagement and Ambition in 2018" (co-authored with Shannon Jenkins, Candice Ortbals, Lori Poloni-Staudinger, and Cherie Strachan, revise & resubmit)

Conventional wisdom holds that the #MeToo movement increased awareness of sexual harassment and drove sympathizers, particularly women, to increased participation in the 2018 midterm elections.  In this paper, we assess whether the #MeToo increased awareness of sexual harassment, as well as whether #MeToo increased self-reported interest in various forms of political participation.  Using an original dataset from October 2018, we find that while the #MeToo movement increased awareness and concern about sexual harassment and sexual assault, the #MeToo movement did not affect interest in political participation among most Americans.  We also find that the people most likely to report being aware of and mobilized by the movement were Democrats, liberals, those with higher incomes, those with high levels of political interest, and those who have personally experienced sexual harassment in professional settings.  Surprisingly, in most of our models women were no more likely to report that #MeToo increased their interest in participating than men.  The results suggest that the primary effect of #MeToo may have been increasing the salience of sexual harassment and interest in political participation in 2018 among those who possessed the resources to participate and who were ideologically predisposed to support the movement’s goals from the beginning.

"Martin Luther King Jr.'s Contribution to Natural Law Theory" (with Michelle Kundmueller of Old Dominion University, in preparation for inclusion in an edited volume)

Martin Luther King, Jr.'s now-canonical "Letter from a Birmingham City Jail" offers a theory of the authority of law to morally bind citizens and this theory in turn underscores King's justification for civil disobedience. This paper takes advantage of this intersection of policy, law, and political theory first to clarify King's theory of law and second to demonstrate the ongoing importance of the contemporary natural law debate to American politics and law.  We begin with an overview of the contemporary political and legal approach to natural law, proceed to a textual exposition of King’s letter in light of natural law theory and various alternatives, and ultimately connect the resulting scholarly interpretation of King's letter to its profound practical implications.  While King employs natural law theory and cites Aquinas, the version of natural law theory he uses to justify the civil rights movement is more secular in nature.  Relying on natural law not only furthers King's mission of highlighting and exposing the moral failures of segregation (ultimately leading to its demise); it also provides theoretical and practical guidance to those seeking an understanding of the relationship between the moral and legal obligations of citizens.