Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Geography (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Ira M. Sheskin

Second Committee Member

Shouraseni Sen Roy

Third Committee Member

David W. Kling


The American South in general remains a pocket of predominantly conservative, Baptist and Evangelical Christian hegemony; however, metropolitan areas of the South display more diversity and pluralism as a result of foreign and domestic migration into the region, changes in religious affiliation, an increasing population choosing no religious affiliation, and the growing influence of popular culture on religious participation. These forces act within a paradigm of neosecularization in which personal conscience exerts more influence than religious authority. Houston, Texas, within the context of the South, serves as the case study that demonstrates the temporal and spatial changes to Houston’s religious and political landscape and the manner in which these changes influence voter behavior. In 2009, Houston, home to a large, active Christian community, became the first major U.S. city to elect an openly homosexual mayor. The changes in Houston’s religious landscape, changes in attitudes toward gays and lesbians, and the varying degrees of voter participation among religious groups across the city, illustrate the unpredictability of religion as an influence on voter behavior in local elections.


Houston; GLBT; election geography; voter behavior; Christian hegemony; neosecularization