I have grown interested in something called Terror Management Theory, which suggests that people find cultural escapes from the burden of their own mortality; in general they become more attached to their own traditions and more hostile to others. In most circumstances, this leads to xenophobia; but with liberals, it leads, apparently, to increased tolerance, since that is one of their core values. So, reading around, I find this conclusion to a paper:
The results of this study complement the growing body of literature on the connection between terror management and religious belief. This work has shown that thoughts of death can increase belief in supernatural agents (Norenzayan & Hansen, 2006), increase support for religiously motivated martyrdom attacks (Pyszczynski et al., 2006), and that affirming certain aspects of religious belief after thinking about death reduces the effect of mortality salience among more intrinsically religious individuals (Jonas & Fischer, 2006). Previous research on religious fundamentalism specifically in connection with TMT has shown that fundamentalist beliefs can be an important terror management mechanism in helping control awareness of death (Friedman & Rholes, 2007, in press).
Isn’t science wonderful?