At least that's what a new study on the Risks of Relgious Rhetoric in Politics by researchers Larry Powell and Eduardo Neiva at the University of Alabama at Birmingham finds. The press release for the study claims:
Politicians engaging in religious rhetoric risk being called hypocrites… The phenomenon is called the Pharisee Effect and is based on biblical references to Jesus' rebuke of religious leaders, known as the Pharisees, for using public prayers to enhance their own image. The theoretical study appears in the latest issue of The Journal of Communication and Religion.
The Pharisees' public piety made them subject to accusations of insincerity and hypocrisy….
When a religious appeal goes too far, audiences' negative reactions can fall into five different categories, say Powell and Neiva. The categories are: self-serving motivations or intentionality; deception or hypocrisy; inappropriateness; fanaticism; and the holier-than-thou attitude. Any of the five evaluations can cause the public to reject the candidate, his or her ideas, or both.