In the late 1970s, the New Christian Right emerged as a formidable political force, boldly announcing itself as a unified movement representing the views of a "moral majority." But that movement did not spring fully formed from its predecessors. American Evangelicals and the 1960s refutes the thesis that evangelical politics were a purely inflammatory backlash against the cultural and political upheaval of the decade.
Bringing together fresh research and innovative interpretations, this book demonstrates that evangelicals actually participated in broader American developments during "the long 1960s," that the evangelical constituency was more diverse than often noted, and that the notion of right-wing evangelical politics as a backlash was a later creation serving the interests of both Republican-conservative alliances and their critics. Evangelicalism's involvement with—rather than its reaction against—the main social movements, public policy initiatives, and cultural transformations of the 1960s proved significant in its 1970s political ascendance. Twelve essays that range thematically from the oil industry to prison ministry and from American counterculture to the Second Vatican Council depict modern evangelicalism both as a religious movement with its own internal dynamics and as one fully integrated into general American history.
American evangelicalism often appears as a politically monolithic, textbook red-state fundamentalism that elected George W. Bush, opposes gay marriage, abortion, and evolution, and promotes apathy about global warming. Prominent public figures hold forth on these topics, speaking with great authority for millions of followers. Authors Stephens and Giberson, with roots in the evangelical tradition, argue that this popular impression understates the diversity within evangelicalism—an often insular world where serious disagreements are invisible to secular and religiously liberal media consumers. Yet, in the face of this diversity, why do so many people follow leaders with dubious credentials when they have other options? Why do tens of millions of Americans prefer to get their science from Ken Ham, founder of the creationist Answers in Genesis, who has no scientific expertise, rather than from his fellow evangelical Francis Collins, current Director of the National Institutes of Health?
Exploring intellectual authority within evangelicalism, the authors reveal how America’s populist ideals, anti-intellectualism, and religious free market, along with the concept of anointing—being chosen by God to speak for him like the biblical prophets—established a conservative evangelical leadership isolated from the world of secular arts and sciences.
Today, charismatic and media-savvy creationists, historians, psychologists, and biblical exegetes continue to receive more funding and airtime than their more qualified counterparts. Though a growing minority of evangelicals engage with contemporary scholarship, the community’s authority structure still encourages the “anointed” to assume positions of leadership.
2021 Finalist Raul Yzaguirre Best Political/Current Affairs Book, International Latino Book Awards
Winner of the Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education Inaugural Book Award
In the late 1960s, the American city found itself in steep decline. An urban crisis fueled by federal policy wreaked destruction and displacement on poor and working-class families. The urban drama included religious institutions, themselves undergoing fundamental change, that debated whether to stay in the city or move to the suburbs. Against the backdrop of the Black and Brown Power movements, which challenged economic inequality and white supremacy, young Latino radicals began occupying churches and disrupting services to compel church communities to join their protests against urban renewal, poverty, police brutality, and racism.
Apostles of Change tells the story of these occupations and establishes their context within the urban crisis; relates the tensions they created; and articulates the activists' bold, new vision for the church and the world. Through case studies from Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, and Houston, Felipe Hinojosa reveals how Latino freedom movements frequently crossed boundaries between faith and politics and argues that understanding the history of these radical politics is essential to understanding the dynamic changes in Latino religious groups from the late 1960s to the early 1980s.
Between Jesus and the Market looks at the appeal of the Christian right-wing movement in contemporary American politics and culture. In her discussions of books and videotapes that are widely distributed by the Christian right but little known by mainstream Americans, Linda Kintz makes explicit the crucial need to understand the psychological makeup of born-again Christians as well as the sociopolitical dynamics involved in their cause. She focuses on the role of religious women in right-wing Christianity and asks, for example, why so many women are attracted to what is often seen as an antiwoman philosophy. The result, a telling analysis of the complexity and appeal of the "emotions that matter" to many Americans, highlights how these emotions now determine public policy in ways that are increasingly dangerous for those outside familiarity’s circle. With texts from such organizations as the Christian Coalition, the Heritage Foundation, and Concerned Women for America, and writings by Elizabeth Dole, Newt Gingrich, Pat Robertson, and Rush Limbaugh, Kintz traces the usefulness of this activism for the secular claim that conservative political economy is, in fact, simply an expression of the deepest and most admirable elements of human nature itself. The discussion of Limbaugh shows how he draws on the skepticism of contemporary culture to create a sense of absolute truth within his own media performance—its truth guaranteed by the market. Kintz also describes how conservative interpretations of the Holy Scriptures, the U.S. Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence have been used to challenge causes such as feminism, women’s reproductive rights, and gay and lesbian rights. In addition to critiquing the intellectual and political left for underestimating the power of right-wing grassroots organizing, corporate interests, and postmodern media sophistication, Between Jesus and the Market discusses the proliferation of militia groups, Christian entrepreneurship, and the explosive growth and "selling" of the Promise Keepers.
Explore perceptions and interpretations of scripture in American politics, identity, popular culture, and public education
Essays from the perspectives of American history, the history of ideas, film studies, visual studies, cultural studies, education, and church-state studies provide essential research for those interested in the intersection of the Bible and American culture. The contributors are Yaakov Ariel, Jacques Berlinerblau, Mark A. Chancey, Rubén Dupertuis, John Fea, Shalom Goldman, Charles C. Haynes, Carol Meyers, Eric M. Meyers, David Morgan, Adele Reinhartz, and David W. Stowe.
Ten essays and an introduction present research from professors of biblical studies, Judaism, English, and history
Articles relevant to scholars, students, and the general public
Analysis of the tensions in American society regarding the Bible and its role in public life.
Founded in 1941 by Reinhold Niebuhr and others, the magazine Christianity and Crisis (C&C) achieved a level of influence far exceeding its small circulation. A forum for important writers ranging from Paul Tillich to Rosemary Ruether, from George Kennan to Noam Chomsky, from Margaret Mead to Cornel West, from Lewis Mumford to Daniel Berrigan, C&C for half a century commanded great respect in left-liberal circles, both religious and secular.
In Building a Protestant Left, Mark Hulsether uses the history of C&C as a case study to explore changing ideas about religion and society in the latter half of the twentieth century. He follows the twists and turns of this story from Niebuhr's Christian realist positions of the 1940s, through Protestant participation in the complex social movements of the 1950s and 1960s, to the emergence of various liberation theologies—African American, feminist, Latin American, and others—that used C&C as a central arena of debate in the 1970s and 1980s. Throughout, Hulsether places these changes in the context of postwar cultural and social history, relating C&C's theological and ethical positions to the broader social and political issues the journal addressed. Included, for example, is an illuminating discussion of C&C's positions in relation to one of the major developments of recent decades: the rise of neoconservatism and the religious right.
Engagingly written, Building a Protestant Left bridges the gap between secularized history and cultural studies on the one hand and traditional religious studies and religious ethics on the other. It also bridges an important generational gap within public-minded religious thought—it is as well informed on the issues that engaged the magazine during Niebuhr's heyday (from the 1940 to the 1960s) as on the liberation theologies and other radical positions that came afterward.
The Author: Mark Hulsether is assistant professor of religious studies and American studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Unlike earlier U.S. interventions in Latin America, the Reagan administration's attempt to overthrow the Sandinista government of Nicaragua during the 1980s was not allowed to proceed quietly. Tens of thousands of American citizens organized and agitated against U.S. aid to the counterrevolutionary guerrillas, known as "contras." Believing the Contra War to be unnecessary, immoral, and illegal, they challenged the administration's Cold War stereotypes, warned of "another Vietnam," and called on the United States to abide by international norms.
A Call to Conscience offers the first comprehensive history of the anti–Contra War campaign and its Nicaragua connections. Roger Peace places this eight-year campaign in the context of previous American interventions in Latin America, the Cold War, and other grassroots oppositional movements. Based on interviews with American and Nicaraguan citizens and leaders, archival records of activist organizations, and official government documents, this book reveals activist motivations, analyzes the organizational dynamics of the anti–Contra War campaign, and contrasts perceptions of the campaign in Managua and Washington.
Peace shows how a variety of civic groups and networks—religious, leftist, peace, veteran, labor, women's rights—worked together in a decentralized campaign that involved extensive transnational cooperation.
Capitalism and Christianity, American Style is William E. Connolly’s stirring call for the democratic left to counter the conservative stranglehold over American religious and economic culture in order to put egalitarianism and ecological integrity on the political agenda. An eminent political theorist known for his work on identity, secularism, and pluralism, Connolly charts the path of the “evangelical-capitalist resonance machine,” source of a bellicose ethos reverberating through contemporary institutional life. He argues that the vengeful vision of the Second Coming motivating a segment of the evangelical right resonates with the ethos of greed animating the cowboy sector of American capitalism. The resulting evangelical-capitalist ethos finds expression in church pulpits, Fox News reports, the best-selling Left Behind novels, consumption practices, investment priorities, and state policies. These practices resonate together to diminish diversity, forestall responsibility to future generations, ignore urban poverty, and support a system of extensive economic inequality.
Connolly describes how the evangelical-capitalist machine works, how its themes resound across class lines, and how it infiltrates numerous aspects of American life. Proposing changes in sensibility and strategy to challenge this machine, Connolly contends that the liberal distinction between secular public and religious private life must be reworked. Traditional notions of unity or solidarity must be translated into drives to forge provisional assemblages comprised of multiple constituencies and creeds. The left must also learn from the political right how power is infused into everyday institutions such as the media, schools, churches, consumption practices, corporations, and neighborhoods. Connolly explores the potential of a “tragic vision” to contest the current politics of existential resentment and political hubris, explores potential lines of connection between it and theistic faiths that break with the evangelical right, and charts the possibility of forging an “eco-egalitarian” economy. Capitalism and Christianity, American Style is William E. Connolly’s most urgent work to date.
Presenting case studies from sixteen countries on five continents, The Catholic Church and the Nation-State paints a rich portrait of a complex and paradoxical institution whose political role has varied historically and geographically. In this integrated and synthetic collection of essays, outstanding scholars from the United States and abroad examine religious, diplomatic, and political actions—both admirable and regrettable—that shape our world. Kenneth R. Himes sets the context of the book by brilliantly describing the political influence of the church in the post-Vatican II era. There are many recent instances, the contributors assert, where the Church has acted as both a moral authority and a self-interested institution: in the United States it maintained unpopular moral positions on issues such as contraception and sexuality, yet at the same time it sought to cover up its own abuses; it was complicit in genocide in Rwanda but played an important role in ending the horrific civil war in Angola; and it has alternately embraced and suppressed nationalism by acting as the voice of resistance against communism in Poland, whereas in Chile it once supported opposition to Pinochet but now aligns with rightist parties.
With an in-depth exploration of the five primary challenges facing the Church—theology and politics, secularization, the transition from serving as a nationalist voice of opposition, questions of justice, and accommodation to sometimes hostile civil authorities—this book will be of interest to scholars and students in religion and politics as well as Catholic Church clergy and laity. By demonstrating how national churches vary considerably in the emphasis of their teachings and in the scope and nature of their political involvement, the analyses presented in this volume engender a deeper understanding of the role of the Roman Catholic Church in the world.
This book is volume two of a three-volume work, Christianity Under Stress, which focuses on the experiences of Christian churches in contemporary communist and socialist societies. In this volume a distinguished group of experts examines the changing relationship of the Catholic church to contemporary communist and socialist societies in Eastern Europe, Latin America, and Asia. Catholicism has, on the one hand, traditionally regarded earthly life as of secondary importance—as an instrument of spiritual transformation—and, on the other, has ascribed great value to the early institutions of the church, taking great interest in temporal matters that affects its institutional concerns. Against the backdrop of this duality, the church has changed over the centuries, adapting to local and national conditions. Catholicism and Politics in Communist Societies surveys these local and national adaptations in their historical contexts, linking the past experience of the church to its present circumstances. Organized around themes of tradition vs. modernity, hierarchy vs. lower clergy, and institutional structure vs. grass-roots organization, this comprehensive volume presents a detailed, country-by-country portrait of the political and social status of the church today in communist and socialist settings.
Contributors. Pedro Ramet, Arthur F. McGovern, Roman Solchanyk, Ivan Hvat, Robert F. Goeckel, C. Chrypinski, Milan J. Reban, Leslie Laszlo, Janice Broun, Eric O. Hanson, Stephen Denney, Thomas E. Quigley, Humberto Belli, Hansjakob Stehle, George H. Williams
Catholic political identity and engagement defy categorization. The complexities of political realities and the human nature of such institutions as church and government often produce a more fractured reality than the pure unity depicted in doctrine. Yet, in 2003 under the leadership of then-prefect Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a "Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life." The note explicitly asserts, "The Christian faith is an integral unity, and thus it is incoherent to isolate some particular element to the detriment of the whole of Catholic doctrine. A political commitment to a single isolated aspect of the Church's social doctrine does not exhaust one's responsibility toward the common good." Catholics and Politics takes up the political and theological significance of this "integral unity," the universal scope of Catholic concern that can make for strange political bedfellows, confound predictable voting patterns, and leave the church poised to critique narrowly partisan agendas across the spectrum.
Catholics and Politics depicts the ambivalent character of Catholics' mainstream "arrival" in the U.S. over the past forty years, integrating social scientific, historical and moral accounts of persistent tensions between faith and power. Divided into four parts—Catholic Leaders in U.S. Politics; The Catholic Public; Catholics and the Federal Government; and International Policy and the Vatican—it describes the implications of Catholic universalism for voting patterns, international policymaking, and partisan alliances. The book reveals complex intersections of Catholicism and politics and the new opportunities for influence and risks of cooptation of political power produced by these shifts. Contributors include political scientists, ethicists, and theologians. The book will be of interest to scholars in political science, religious studies, and Christian ethics and all lay Catholics interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the tensions that can exist between church doctrine and partisan politics.
On July 9, 2011, South Sudan celebrated its independence as the world's newest nation, an occasion that the country's Christian leaders claimed had been foretold in the Book of Isaiah. The Bible provided a foundation through which the South Sudanese could distinguish themselves from the Arab and Muslim Sudanese to the north and understand themselves as a spiritual community now freed from their oppressors. Less than three years later, however, new conflicts emerged along ethnic lines within South Sudan, belying the liberation theology that had supposedly reached its climactic conclusion with independence. In Chosen Peoples, Christopher Tounsel investigates the centrality of Christian worldviews to the ideological construction of South Sudan and the inability of shared religion to prevent conflict. Exploring the creation of a colonial-era mission school to halt Islam's spread up the Nile, the centrality of biblical language in South Sudanese propaganda during the Second Civil War (1983--2005), and postindependence transformations of religious thought in the face of ethnic warfare, Tounsel highlights the potential and limitations of deploying race and Christian theology to unify South Sudan.
The idea of the United States as a Christian nation is a powerful, seductive, and potentially destructive theme in American life, culture, and politics. And yet, as Richard T. Hughes reveals in this powerful book, the biblical vision of the "kingdom of God" stands at odds with the values and actions of an American empire that sanctions war instead of peace, promotes dominance and oppression instead of reconciliation, and exalts wealth and power instead of justice for the poor and needy. With extensive analysis of both Christian scripture and American history from the founding of the republic to the present day, Christian America and the Kingdom of God illuminates the devastating irony of a "Christian America" that so often behaves in unchristian ways.
From the first rumblings of the Moral Majority over twenty years ago, the Christian Right has been marshalling its forces and maneuvering its troops in an effort to re-shape the landscape of American politics. It has fascinated social scientists and journalists as the first right-wing social movement in postwar America to achieve significant political and popular support, and it has repeatedly defied those who would step up to write its obituary. In 2000, while many touted the demise of the Christian Coalition, the broader undercurrents of the movement were instrumental in helping George W. Bush win the GOP nomination and the White House. Bush repaid that swell of support by choosing Senator John Ashcroft, once the movement's favored presidential candidate, as attorney general.
The Christian Right in American Politics, under the direction of three of the nation's leading scholars in the field of religion and politics, recognizing the movement as a force still to be reckoned with, undertakes the important task of making an historical analysis of the Christian Right in state politics during its heyday, 1980 to the millennium. Its twelve chapters, written by outstanding scholars, review the impact and influence of the Christian Right in those states where it has had its most significant presence: South Carolina, Virginia, Texas, Florida, Michigan, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Colorado, California, Maine, and Oregon and Washington.
Since 1980, scholars have learned a good deal about the social characteristics, religious doctrine, and political beliefs of activists in and supporters of the Christian Right in these states, and each contribution is based on rigorous, dispassionate scholarship. The writers explore the gains and losses of the movement as it attempts to re-shape political landscapes. More precisely, they provide in-depth descriptions of the resources, organizations, and the group ecologies in which the Christian Right operates-the distinct elements that drove the movement forward.
As the editors state, "the Christian Right has been engaged in a long and torturous 'march toward the millennium,' from outsider status into the thick of American politics." Those formative years, 1980-2000, are essential for any understanding of this uniquely American social movement. This rigorous analysis over many states and many elections provides the clearest picture yet of the goals, tactics, and hopes of the Christian Right in America.
The Christian Structure of Politics, the first full-length monograph on Thomas Aquinas's De Regno in decades, offers an authoritative interpretation of De Regno as a contribution to our understanding of Aquinas's politics, particularly on the relationship between Church and State. William McCormick argues that Aquinas takes up a via media between Augustine and Aristotle in De Regno, invoking human nature to ground politics as rational, but also Christian principles to limit politics because of both sin and the supernatural end of man beyond politics. Where others have seen disjoined sections on the best regime, tyranny, and the reward of the king, McCormick identifies a dialogical structure to the text - one not unlike the disputed question format - whereby Aquinas both tempers expectations for the best government and offers a spiritual diagnosis of tyranny, culminating in a sharp critique of civil religion and political theology.
McCormick draws upon historical research on Aquinas' context, especially that of Anthony Black, Cary Nederman and Francis Oakley, from which he develops three themes: the medieval preponderance of kingship and royal ideology; the relationship between Church and State; and the intersection of Latin Christianity and Greco-Roman antiquity. While age-old concerns, recent research in these areas has allowed us to move beyond simplistic platitudes.
For scholars of political theory and the history of political thought, De Regno will prove fascinating for the interplay of Aristotelian and Augustinian elements, undercutting the conventional wisdom that Aquinas was simply an Aristotelian. De Regno also includes an extended treatment of civil religion, one of Aquinas’ most historically-oriented discussions of politics.
A Publishers Weekly Best Religion Book of the Year A Choice Outstanding Academic Title
For many Americans, being Christian is central to their political outlook. Political Christianity is most often associated with the Religious Right, but the Christian faith has actually been a source of deep disagreement about what American society and government should look like. While some identify Christianity with Western civilization and unfettered individualism, others have maintained that Christian principles call for racial equality, international cooperation, and social justice. At once incisive and timely, Christian delves into the intersection of faith and political identity and offers an essential reconsideration of what it means to be Christian in America today.
“Bowman is fast establishing a reputation as a significant commentator on the culture and politics of the United States.” —Church Times
“Bowman looks to tease out how religious groups in American history have defined, used, and even wielded the word Christian as a means of understanding themselves and pressing for their own idiosyncratic visions of genuine faith and healthy democracy.” —Christian Century
“A fascinating examination of the twists and turns in American Christianity, showing that the current state of political/religious alignment was not necessarily inevitable, nor even probable.” —Deseret News
Christianity, not religion in general, has been important for American democracy. With this bold thesis, Hugh Heclo offers a panoramic view of how Christianity and democracy have shaped each other.
Heclo shows that amid deeply felt religious differences, a Protestant colonial society gradually convinced itself of the truly Christian reasons for, as well as the enlightened political advantages of, religious liberty. By the mid-twentieth century, American democracy and Christianity appeared locked in a mutual embrace. But it was a problematic union vulnerable to fundamental challenge in the Sixties. Despite the subsequent rise of the religious right and glib talk of a conservative Republican theocracy, Heclo sees a longer-term, reciprocal estrangement between Christianity and American democracy.
Responding to his challenging argument, Mary Jo Bane, Michael Kazin, and Alan Wolfe criticize, qualify, and amend it. Heclo’s rejoinder suggests why both secularists and Christians should worry about a coming rupture between the Christian and democratic faiths. The result is a lively debate about a momentous tension in American public life.
Christianity and Public Culture in Africa takes readers beyond familiar images of religious politicians and populations steeped in spirituality. It shows how critical reason and Christian convictions have combined in surprising ways as African Christians confront issues such as national constitutions, gender relations, and the continuing struggle with HIV/AIDS.
The wide-ranging essays included here explore rural Africa and the continent’s major cities, colonial and missionary legacies, and mass media images in the twenty-first century. They also reveal the diversity of Pentecostalism in Africa and highlight the region’s remarkable denominational diversity. Scholars and students alike will find these essays timely and impressive.
The contributors demonstrate how the public significance of Christianity varies across time and place. They explore rural Africa and the continent’s major cities, and colonial and missionary situations, as well as mass-mediated ideas and images in the twenty-first century. They also reveal the plurality of Pentecostalism in Africa and keep in view the continent’s continuing denominational diversity. Studentsand scholars will find these topical studies to be impressive in scope.
Contributors: Barbara M. Cooper, Harri Englund, Marja Hinfelaar, Nicholas Kamau-Goro, Birgit Meyer, Michael Perry Kweku Okyerefo, Damaris Parsitau, Ruth Prince, James A. Pritchett, Ilana van Wyk
Church and state: a simple phrase that reflects one of the most famous and fraught relationships in the history of the United States. But what exactly is “the church,” and how is it understood in US law today? In Church State Corporation, religion and law scholar Winnifred Fallers Sullivan uncovers the deeply ambiguous and often unacknowledged ways in which Christian theology remains alive and at work in the American legal imagination.
Through readings of the opinions of the US Supreme Court and other legal texts, Sullivan shows how “the church” as a religious collective is granted special privilege in US law. In-depth analyses of Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC and Burwell v. Hobby Lobby reveal that the law tends to honor the religious rights of the group—whether in the form of a church, as in Hosanna-Tabor, or in corporate form, as in Hobby Lobby—over the rights of the individual, offering corporate religious entities an autonomy denied to their respective members. In discussing the various communities that construct the “church-shaped space” in American law, Sullivan also delves into disputes over church property, the legal exploitation of the black church in the criminal justice system, and the recent case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Brimming with insight, Church State Corporation provocatively challenges our most basic beliefs about the ties between religion and law in ostensibly secular democracies.
The Ranters - like the Levellers and the Diggers - were a group of religious libertarians who flourished during the English Civil War (1642–1651), a period of social and religious turmoil which saw, in the words of the historian Christopher Hill, 'the world turned upside down'.
A Collection of Ranter Writings is the most notable attempt to anthologise the key Ranter writings, bringing together some of the most remarkable, visionary and unforgettable texts. The subjects range from the limits to pleasure and divine right, to social justice and collective action.
The Ranters have intrigued and captivated generations of scholars and philosophers. This carefully curated collection will be of great interest to historians, philosophers and all those trying to understand past radical traditions.
Drawing on a rich base of British archival materials, Arabic periodicals, and secondary sources, Colonialism and Christianity in Mandate Palestine brings to light the ways in which the British colonial state in Palestine exacerbated sectarianism. By transforming Muslim, Christian, and Jewish religious identities into legal categories, Laura Robson argues, the British ultimately marginalized Christian communities in Palestine. Robson explores the turning points that developed as a result of such policies, many of which led to permanent changes in the region's political landscapes. Cases include the British refusal to support Arab Christian leadership within Greek-controlled Orthodox churches, attempts to avert involvement from French or Vatican-related groups by sidelining Latin and Eastern Rite Catholics, and interfering with Arab Christians' efforts to cooperate with Muslims in objecting to Zionist expansion. Challenging the widespread but mistaken notion that violent sectarianism was endemic to Palestine, Colonialism and Christianity in Mandate Palestine shows that it was intentionally stoked in the wake of British rule beginning in 1917, with catastrophic effects well into the twenty-first century.
The Common Good of Constitutional Democracy offers a rich collection of essays in political philosophy by Swiss philosopher Martin Rhonheimer. Like his other books in both ethical theory and applied ethics, which have recently been published in English, the essays included are distinguished by the philosophical rigor and meticulous attention to the primary and secondary literature of the various topics discussed
From the counter-reformation through the twentieth century, the notion of sacrifice has played a key role in French culture and nationalist politics. Ivan Strenski traces the history of sacrificial thought in France, starting from its origins in Roman Catholic theology. Throughout, he highlights not just the dominant discourse on sacrifice but also the many competing conceptions that contested it.
Strenski suggests that the annihilating spirituality rooted in the Catholic model of Eucharistic sacrifice persuaded the judges in the Dreyfus Case to overlook or play down his possible innocence because a scapegoat was needed to expiate the sins of France and save its army from disgrace. Strenski also suggests that the French army's strategy in World War I, French fascism, and debates over public education and civic morals during the Third Republic all owe much to Catholic theology of sacrifice and Protestant reinterpretations of it. Pointing out that every major theorist of sacrifice is French, including Bataille, Durkheim, Girard, Hubert, and Mauss, Strenski argues that we cannot fully understand their work without first taking into account the deep roots of sacrificial thought in French history.
In the mid-twentieth century, far more evangelicals supported such “liberal” causes as peace, social justice, and environmental protection. Only gradually did the conservative evangelical faction win dominance, allying with the Republican Party of Ronald Reagan and, eventually, George W. Bush.
In Countercultural Conservatives Axel Schäfer traces the evolution of a diffuse and pluralistic movement into the political force of the New Christian Right. In forging its complex theological and political identity, evangelicalism did not simply reject the ideas of 1960s counterculture, Schäfer argues. For all their strict Biblicism and uncompromising morality, evangelicals absorbed and extended key aspects of the countercultural worldview.
Carefully examining evangelicalism’s internal dynamics, fissures, and coalitions, this book offers an intriguing reinterpretation of the most important development in American religion and politics since World War II.
A nuanced look at the rhetorical narratives used by conservative Republicans and evangelicals to make both personal and political choices
As a political constituency, white conservative evangelicals are generally portrayed as easy to dupe, disposed to vote against their own interests, and prone to intolerance and knee-jerk reactions. In Decoding the Digital Church: Evangelical Storytelling and the Election of Donald J. Trump, Stephanie A. Martin challenges this assumption and moves beyond these overused stereotypes to develop a refined explanation for this constituency’s voting behavior.
This volume offers a fresh perspective on the study of religion and politics and stems from the author’s personal interest in the ways her experiences with believers differ from how scholars often frame this group’s rationale and behaviors. To address this disparity, Martin examines sermons, drawing on her expertise in rhetoric and communication studies with the benefits of ethnographic research in an innovative hybrid approach she terms a “digital rhetorical ethnography.” Martin’s thorough research surveys more than 150 online sermons from America’s largest evangelical megachurches in 37 different states. Through listening closely to the words of the pastors who lead these conservative congregations, Martin describes a gentler discourse less obsessed with issues like abortion or marriage equality than stereotypes of evangelicals might suggest. Instead, the politicaleconomic sermons and stories from pastors encourage true believers
to remember the exceptional nature of the nation’s founding while also deemphasizing how much American citizenship really means.
Martin grapples with and pays serious, scholarly attention to a seeming contradiction: while the large majority of white conservative evangelicals voted in 2016 for Donald J. Trump, Martin shows that many of their pastors were deeply concerned about the candidate, the divisive nature of the campaign, and the potential effect of the race on their congregants’ devotion to democratic process itself. In-depth chapters provide a fuller analysis of our current political climate, recapping previous scholarship on the history of this growing divide and establishing the groundwork to set up the dissonance between the political commitments of evangelicals and their faith that the rhetorical ethnography addresses.
Although some critics of Eric Voegelin’s later work have faulted his failure to deal with the historical Jesus and to address the implications of Christianity for social and political life, the recent publication of Voegelin’s History of Political Ideas has allowed a more complete assessment of his position regarding the Christian political order. This book addresses that criticism through an analysis of Voegelin’s early work.
In Eric Voegelin and the Problem of Christian Political Order, Jeffrey C. Herndon analyzes the development of Voegelin’s thought regarding the origins of Christianity in the person of Jesus, the development of the church in the works of Paul, and the relationship between an immanent institutional order symbolizing the divine presence and the struggle for social and political order. Focusing on the tension between a spiritual phenomenon based on Pauline faith and the institutionalization of that experience in the church, Herndon offers one of the first examinations of the relationship of the History of Political Ideas to Voegelin’s larger body of work.
In his wide-ranging study, Herndon explores Voegelin’s examination of the problem of Christian political order from the inception of Christianity through the Great Reformation. He also presents a clarification of Voegelin’s theory of civilizational foundation and of Voegelin’s philosophy of history with regard to Christianity and Western political order.
Herndon addresses not only the nagging problem in Voegelin scholarship regarding his relationship with the historical Jesus but also the “Pauline compromises with the world” that enabled Christianity to become the instrument by which the West was civilized. He also shows that Voegelin’s interpretation of the historical pressures released by the Great Reformation is important to an understanding of his later work regarding the negative effect of Christian symbols in the creation of ideological disorder.
Eric Voegelin and the Problem of Christian Political Order clarifies issues in Voegelin studies regarding the intersection between political theory and Christian concerns, addressing the relation of religious experience to the public sphere of political life in the West and helping to explain Voegelin’s contention that the death of the spirit is the price of progress. It offers scholars a perspective heretofore lacking in Voegelin scholarship and a clearer view of Voegelin’s understanding of the Christian dispensation and its influence on the course of Western development, history, and philosophy.
Separation of church and state is a bedrock principal of American democracy, and so, too, is active citizen engagement. Since evangelicals comprise one of the largest and most vocal voting blocs in the United States, tensions and questions naturally arise. In the two-volume Evangelicals and Democracy in America, editors Steven Brint and Jean Reith Schroedel have assembled an authoritative collection of studies of the evangelical movement in America. Religion and Politics, the second volume of the set, focuses on the role of religious conservatives in party politics, the rhetoric evangelicals use to mobilize politically, and what the history of the evangelical movement reveals about where it may be going. Part I of Religion and Politics explores the role of evangelicals in electoral politics. Contributor Pippa Norris looks at evangelicals around the globe and finds that religiosity is a strong predictor of ideological leanings in industrialized countries. But the United States remains one of only a handful of post-industrial societies where religion plays a significant role in partisan politics. Other chapters look at voting trends, especially the growing number of higher-income evangelicals among Republican ranks, how voting is influenced both by "values" and race, and the management of the symbols and networks behind the electoral system of moral-values politics. Part II of the volume focuses on the mobilizing rhetoric of the Christian Right. Nathaniel Klemp and Stephen Macedo show how the rhetorical strategies of the Christian Right create powerful mobilizing narratives, but frequently fail to build broad enough coalitions to prevail in the pluralistic marketplace of ideas. Part III analyzes the cycles and evolution of the Christian Right. Kimberly Conger looks at the specific circumstances that have allowed evangelicals to become dominant in some Republican state party committees but not in others. D. Michael Lindsay examines the "elastic orthodoxy" that has allowed evangelicals to evolve into a formidable social and political force. The final chapter by Clyde Wilcox presents a new framework for understanding the relationship between the Christian Right and the GOP based on the ecological metaphor of co-evolution. With its companion volume on religion and society, this second volume of Evangelicals and Democracy in America offers the most complete examination yet of the social circumstances and political influence of the millions of Americans who are white evangelical Protestants. Understanding their history and prospects for the future is essential to forming a comprehensive picture of America today.
By the end of the nineteenth century, the vast majority of U.S. churches were evangelical in outlook and practice. America's turn toward modernism and embrace of science in the early twentieth century threatened evangelicalism's cultural prominence. But as confidence in modern secularism wavered in the 1960s and 1970s, evangelicalism had another great awakening. The two volumes of Evangelicals and Democracy in America trace the development and current role of evangelicalism in American social and political life. Volume I focuses on who evangelicals are today, how they relate to other groups, and what role they play in U.S. social institutions. Part I of Religion and Society examines evangelicals' identity and activism. Contributor Robert Wuthnow explores the identity built around the centrality of Jesus, church and community service, and the born-again experience. Philip Gorski explores the features of American evangelicalism and society that explain the recurring mobilization of conservative Protestants in American history. Part II looks at how evangelicals relate to other key groups in American society. Individual chapters delve into evangelicals' relationship to other conservative religious groups, women and gays, African Americans, and mainline Protestants. These chapters show sources of both solidarity and dissension within the "traditionalist alliance" and the hidden strengths of mainline Protestants' moral discourse. Part III examines religious conservatives' influence on American social institutions outside of politics. W. Bradford Wilcox, David Sikkink, Gabriel Rossman, and Rogers Smith investigate evangelicals' influence on families, schools, popular culture, and the courts, respectively. What emerges is a picture of American society as a consumer marketplace with a secular legal structure and an arena of pluralistic competition interpreting what constitutes the public good. These chapters show that religious conservatives have been shaped by these realities more than they have been able to shape them. Evangelicals and Democracy in America, Volume I is one of the most comprehensive examinations ever of this important current in American life and serves as a corrective to erroneous popular representations. These meticulously balanced studies not only clarify the religious and social origins of evangelical mobilization, but also detail both the scope and limits of evangelicals' influence in our society. This volume is the perfect complement to its companion in this landmark series, Evangelicals and Democracy in America, Volume II: Religion and Politics.
Over the past fifteen years, associations throughout the U.S. have organized citizens around issues of equality and social justice, often through local churches. But in contrast to President Bush's vision of faith-based activism, in which groups deliver social services to the needy, these associations do something greater. Drawing on institutions of faith, they reshape public policies that neglect the disadvantaged.
To find out how this faith-based form of community organizing succeeds, Richard L. Wood spent several years working with two local groups in Oakland, California—the faith-based Pacific Institute for Community Organization and the race-based Center for Third World Organizing. Comparing their activist techniques and achievements, Wood argues that the alternative cultures and strategies of these two groups give them radically different access to community ties and social capital.
Creative and insightful, Faith in Action shows how community activism and religious organizations can help build a more just and democratic future for all Americans.
Historians have long believed that Catholics were late and ambivalent supporters of the German nation. Rebecca Ayako Bennette’s bold new interpretation demonstrates definitively that from the beginning in 1871, when Wilhelm I was proclaimed Kaiser of a unified Germany, Catholics were actively promoting a German national identity for the new Reich.
In the years following unification, Germany was embroiled in a struggle to define the new nation. Otto von Bismarck and his allies looked to establish Germany as a modern nation through emphasis on Protestantism and military prowess. Many Catholics feared for their future when he launched the Kulturkampf, a program to break the political and social power of German Catholicism. But these anti-Catholic policies did not destroy Catholic hopes for the new Germany. Rather, they encouraged Catholics to develop an alternative to the Protestant and liberal visions that dominated the political culture. Bennette’s reconstruction of Catholic thought and politics sheds light on several aspects of German life. From her discovery of Catholics who favored a more “feminine” alternative to Bismarckian militarism to her claim that anti-socialism, not anti-Semitism, energized Catholic politics, Bennette’s work forces us to rethink much of what we know about religion and national identity in late nineteenth-century Germany.
Does religion promote political mobilization? Are individuals motivated by their faith to focus on issues of social justice, personal morality, or both? What is the relationship between religious conviction and partisanship? Does religious identity reinforce or undermine other political identifications like race, ethnicity, and class?
The answers to these questions are hardly monolithic, varying between and within major American religious groups. With an electoral climate increasingly shaped by issues of faith, values, and competing moral visions, it is both fascinating and essential to examine the religious and political currents within America's major religious traditions.
J. Matthew Wilson and a group of prominent religion and politics scholars examine these topics and assess one question central to these issues: How does faith shape political action in America's diverse religious communities? From Pews to Polling Places seeks to cover a rich mosaic of religious and ethnic perspectives with considerable breadth by examining evangelical Christians, the religious left, Catholics, Mormons, African Americans, Latinos, Jews, and Muslims. Along with these groups, the book takes a unique look at the role of secular and antifundamentalist positions, adding an even wider outlook to these critical concerns.
The contributors demonstrate how different theologies, histories, and social situations drive distinct conceptualizations of the relationship between religious and political life. At the same time, however, the book points to important commonalities across traditions that can inform our discussions on the impact of religion on political life. In emphasizing these similarities, the authors explore the challenges of political mobilization, partisanship, and the intersections of religion and ethnicity.
The Gender of Piety is an intimate history of the Brethren in Christ Church in Zimbabwe, or BICC, as related through six individual life histories that extend from the early colonial years through the first decade after independence. Taken together, these six lives show how men and women of the BICC experienced and sequenced their piety in different ways. Women usually remained tied to the church throughout their lives, while men often had a more strained relationship with it. Church doctrine was not always flexible enough to accommodate expected masculine gender roles, particularly male membership in political and economic institutions or participation in important male communal practices.
The study is based on more than fifteen years of extensive oral history research supported by archival work in Zimbabwe, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The oral accounts make it clear, official versions to the contrary, that the church was led by spiritually powerful women and that maleness and mission-church notions of piety were often incompatible.
The life-history approach illustrates how the tension of gender roles both within and without the church manifested itself in sometimes unexpected ways: for example, how a single family could produce both a legendary woman pastor credited with mediating multiple miracles and a man—her son—who joined the armed wing of the Zimbabwe African People’s Union nationalist political party and fought in Zimbabwe’s liberation war in the 1970s. Investigating the lives of men and women in equal measure, The Gender of Piety uses a gendered interpretive lens to analyze the complex relationship between the church and broader social change in this region of southern Africa.
The Global Face of Public Faithaddresses the hotly debated question of the role religion should play in politics in both the American and international contexts. It engages the fears that public religion threatens American democracy and could lead to a global clash of civilizations and new wars of religion. It analyzes how Christianity can attain common ground with other religious communities, thus becoming a force for peace and human rights. The separation of church from state need not mean the privatization of religion. Religious engagement in public life can strengthen civic life by encouraging active citizen participation that promotes both justice and peace. The question of religion and politics should thus become an argument about how faith becomes public, not whether it does. Religious communities, Christianity in particular, should be vigorous advocates of human rights, democratic governance, and economic development worldwide. In so doing, they will also become peacemakers.
David Hollenbach is a calm voice of reason in a chaotic world, with an eye that sees beyond national horizons to where human needs and human rights converge. He is convinced that religious traditions can find common ground—through the use of rights and rights language. The Global Face of Public Faith reinforces his commitment to confronting such issues as poverty and economic development, globalism, and interreligious dialogue. He focuses here on faith and the Catholic tradition in politics; the role of the church in American public life; and the wider issues of global challenges and ethics—in a search for a common set of moral standards and a international ethic through a commitment to universal human rights. While not denying the difficulties of forging such a consensus, he nonetheless sees the possibility for justice, and reasons for hope. And hope is something the world can always use.
Religion has been on the rise in America for decades—which strikes many as a shocking new development. To the contrary, Jason Stevens asserts, the rumors of the death of God were premature. Americans have always conducted their cultural life through religious symbols, never more so than during the Cold War. In God-Fearing and Free, Stevens discloses how the nation, on top of the world and torn between grandiose self-congratulation and doubt about the future, opened the way for a new master narrative. The book shows how the American public, powered by a national religious revival, was purposefully disillusioned regarding the country’s mythical innocence and fortified for an epochal struggle with totalitarianism.
Stevens reveals how the Augustinian doctrine of original sin was refurbished and then mobilized in a variety of cultural discourses that aimed to shore up democratic society against threats preying on the nation’s internal weaknesses. Suddenly, innocence no longer meant a clear conscience. Instead it became synonymous with totalitarian ideologies of the fascist right or the communist left, whose notions of perfectability were dangerously close to millenarian ideals at the heart of American Protestant tradition. As America became riddled with self-doubt, ruminations on the meaning of power and the future of the globe during the “American Century” renewed the impetus to religion.
Covering a wide selection of narrative and cultural forms, Stevens shows how writers, artists, and intellectuals, the devout as well as the nonreligious, disseminated the terms of this cultural dialogue, disputing, refining, and challenging it—effectively making the conservative case against modernity as liberals floundered.
Much like the rest of the country, American Catholics are politically divided, perhaps more so now than at any point in their history. In this learned but accessible work for scholars, students, and religious and lay readers, ethicist Julie Hanlon Rubio suggests that there is a way beyond red versus blue for orthodox and progressive Catholics. In a call for believers on both sides of the liberal-conservative divide to put aside labels and rhetoric, Rubio, a leading scholar in marriage and family for more than twenty years, demonstrates that common ground does exist in the local sphere between the personal and the political.
In Hope for Common Ground, Rubio draws on Catholic Social Thought to explore ways to bring Catholics together. Despite their differences, Catholics across the political spectrum can share responsibility for social sin and work within communities to contribute to social progress. Rubio expands this common space into in-depth discussions on family fragility, poverty, abortion, and end-of-life care. These four issues, though divisive, are part of a seamless worldview that holds all human life as sacred. Rubio argues that if those on different sides focus on what can be done to solve social problems in “the space between” or local communities, opposing sides will see they are not so far apart as they think. The common ground thus created can then lead to far-reaching progress on even the most divisive issues—and help quiet the discord tearing apart the Church.
Political mobilization tends to take different forms in contemporary Catholic- and Sunni-majority countries. Luis Felipe Mantilla attributes this dynamic to changes taking place in religious communities and the political institutions that govern religious political engagement.
In How Political Parties Mobilize Religion, Mantillaevenhandedly traces the emergence and success of religious parties in Mexico and Turkey, two countries shaped by assertive secular regimes. In doing so, he demonstrates that religious parties are highly responsive to political institutions, such as electoral laws, as well as to the structure of broader religious communities.
Whereas in both countries, the electoral success of religious mobilizers was initially a boon for democracy, in Mexico it was marred by political mismanagement and became entangled with persistent corruption and escalating violence. In Turkey, the democratic credentials of religious mobilizers were profoundly eroded as the government became increasingly autocratic, concentrating power in very few hands and rolling back basic liberal rights.
Mantilla investigates the role religious mobilization plays in the evolution of electoral politics and democratic institutions, and to what extent their trajectories reflect broader trends in political Catholicism and Islam.
“Judeo-Christian” is a remarkably easy term to look right through. Judaism and Christianity obviously share tenets, texts, and beliefs that have strongly influenced American democracy. In this ambitious book, however, K. Healan Gaston challenges the myth of a monolithic Judeo-Christian America. She demonstrates that the idea is not only a recent and deliberate construct, but also a potentially dangerous one. From the time of its widespread adoption in the 1930s, the ostensible inclusiveness of Judeo-Christian terminology concealed efforts to promote particular conceptions of religion, secularism, and politics. Gaston also shows that this new language, originally rooted in arguments over the nature of democracy that intensified in the early Cold War years, later became a marker in the culture wars that continue today. She argues that the debate on what constituted Judeo-Christian—and American—identity has shaped the country’s religious and political culture much more extensively than previously recognized.
In 911, the French king ceded land along the river Seine to Rollo the Viking, on condition that he convert to Christianity. Over the next century and a half, Rollo and his descendants would become powerful and pious Christian rulers of the mighty European territory, Normandy. In 1066, Rollo's descendant William would conquer England, with papal sanction.
Investigating the role of religious tradition in the legitimation of power and the establishment of identity, Samantha Kahn Herrick illuminates the often murky early history of the duchy of Normandy. Central to this religious heritage stood the region's traditional saints, whose deeds, recorded in Latin lives, were celebrated regularly. Herrick focuses on the neglected figures Taurinus of Evreux, Vigor of Bayeux, and Nicasius of Rouen, saints with particular resonance in areas central to the Norman dukes' territorial ambitions. In elaborating a vision of the past that helped explain the present, the saints' stories sanctioned the dukes' rule.
Innovative in its historical use of hagiographical literature, this work advances our understanding of early Normandy and the Vikings' transformation from pagan raiders to Christian princes. It also sheds light on the intersection of religious tradition, identity, and power.
As immigration from Asia and Latin America reshapes the demographic composition of the U.S., some analysts have anticipated the decline of conservative white evangelicals’ influence in politics. Yet, Donald Trump captured a larger share of the white evangelical vote in the 2016 election than any candidate in the previous four presidential elections. Why has the political clout of white evangelicals persisted at a time of increased racial and ethnic diversity? In Immigrants, Evangelicals, and Politics in an Era of Demographic Change, political scientist Janelle Wong examines a new generation of Asian American and Latino evangelicals and offers an account of why demographic change has not contributed to a political realignment.
Asian Americans and Latinos currently constitute 13 percent of evangelicals, and their churches are among the largest, fastest growing organizations in their communities. While evangelical identity is associated with conservative politics, Wong draws from national surveys and interviews to show that non-white evangelicals express political attitudes that are significantly less conservative than those of their white counterparts. Black, Asian American, and Latino evangelicals are much more likely to support policies such as expanded immigration rights, increased taxation of the wealthy, and government interventions to slow climate change. As Wong argues, non-white evangelicals’ experiences as members of racial or ethnic minority groups often lead them to adopt more progressive political views compared to their white counterparts.
However, despite their growth in numbers, non-white evangelicals—particularly Asian Americans and Latinos—are concentrated outside of swing states, have lower levels of political participation than white evangelicals, and are less likely to be targeted by political campaigns. As a result, white evangelicals dominate the evangelical policy agenda and are overrepresented at the polls. Also, many white evangelicals have adopted even more conservative political views in response to rapid demographic change, perceiving, for example, that discrimination against Christians now rivals discrimination against racial and ethnic minorities.
Wong demonstrates that immigrant evangelicals are neither “natural” Republicans nor “natural” Democrats. By examining the changing demographics of the evangelical movement, Immigrants, Evangelicals, and Politics in an Era of Demographic Change sheds light on an understudied constituency that has yet to find its political home.
Bettye Collier-Thomas’s groundbreaking book, Jesus, Jobs, and Justice—now available for the first time in paperback—provides a remarkable account of the religious faith, social and political activism, and extraordinary resilience of black women during the centuries of American growth and change. As co-creators of churches, women were a central factor in their development. However, women often had to cope with sexism in black churches, as well as racism in mostly white denominations.
Collier-Thomas skillfully shows how black church women created national organizations such as the National Association of Colored Women, the National League of Colored Republican Women, and the National Council of Negro Women to fight for civil rights and combat discrimination. She also examines how black women missionaries sacrificed their lives in service to their African sisters whose destiny they believed was tied to theirs.
While religion has been a guiding force in the lives of most African Americans, for black women it has been essential. Jesus, Jobs, and Justice restores black women to their rightful place in American and black history and demonstrates their faith in themselves, their race, and their God.
This book looks at the work and influence of Leo Strauss in a variety of ways that will be of interest to readers of political philosophy. It will be of particular interest to Catholics and scholars of other religious traditions. Strauss had a great deal of interaction with his contemporary Catholic scholars, and many of his students or their students teach or have taught at Catholic colleges and universities in America. Leo Strauss and His Catholic Readers brings together work by scholars from two continents, some of whom knew Strauss, one of whom was his student at the University of Chicago. The first section of essays considers Catholic responses to Strauss’s project of recovering Classical natural right as against modern individual rights. Some of the authors suggest that his approach can be a fruitful corrective to an uncritical reception of modern ideas. Nevertheless, most point out that the Catholic cannot accept all of Strauss’s project. The second section deals with areas of overlap between Strauss and Catholics. Some of the chapters explore encounters with his contemporary scholars while others turn to more current concerns. The final section approaches the theological-political question itself, a question central to both Strauss’s work and that of the Catholic intellectual tradition. This section of the book considers the relationship of Strauss’s work to Christianity and Christian commitments at a broader level. Because Christianity does not have an explicit political doctrine, Christians have found themselves as rulers, subjects, and citizens in a variety of political regimes. Leo Strauss’s return to Platonic political philosophy can provide a useful lens through which his Catholic readers can assess what it means for there to be a best regime.
This book is the culmination of Heinrich Meier's acclaimed analyses of the controversial thought of Carl Schmitt. Meier identifies the core of Schmitt's thought as political theology—that is, political theorizing that claims to have its ultimate ground in the revelation of a mysterious or supra-rational God. This radical, but half-hidden, theological foundation unifies the whole of Schmitt's often difficult and complex oeuvre, cutting through the intentional deceptions and unintentional obfuscations that have eluded previous commentators.
Relating this religious dimension to Schmitt's support for National Socialism and his continuing anti-Semitism, Meier compels the reader to come to terms with the irreconcilable differences between political theology and political philosophy. His book will give pause to those who have tended to gloss over the troubling aspects of some of Schmitt's ideas.
With editions in German, French, Italian, and now English, Meier's two books on Schmitt have dramatically reoriented the international debate about Carl Schmitt and his significance for twentieth-century political thought.
"Standing far above the rest . . . is Heinrich Meier's new study, Die Lehre Carl Schmitts, which covers all of Schmitt's writings. . . . Meier's work has forced everyone to take a second look at the assumptions underlying Schmitt's better-known writings and reconsider some that have been ignored."—Mark Lilla, reviewing the German edition in The New York Review of Books
Heinrich Meier’s work on Carl Schmitt has dramatically reoriented the international debate about Schmitt and his significance for twentieth-century political thought. In The Lesson of Carl Schmitt, Meier identifies the core of Schmitt’s thought as political theology—that is, political theorizing that claims to have its ultimate ground in the revelation of a mysterious or suprarational God. This radical, but half-hidden, theological foundation underlies the whole of Schmitt’s often difficult and complex oeuvre, rich in historical turns and political convolutions, intentional deceptions and unintentional obfuscations.
In four chapters on morality, politics, revelation, and history, Meier clarifies the difference between political philosophy and Schmitt’s political theology and relates the religious dimension of his thought to his support for National Socialism and his continuing anti-Semitism. New to this edition are two essays that address the recently published correspondences of Schmitt—particularly with Hans Blumberg—and the light it sheds on his conception of political theology.
Both the Christian right and right-wing white supremacist groups aspire to overcome a culture they perceive as hostile to the white middle class, families, and heterosexuality. The family is threatened, they claim, by a secular humanist conspiracy that seeks to erase all memory of the nation’s Christian heritage by brainwashing its children through sex education, multiculturalism, and pop culture. In Lift High the Cross Ann Burlein looks at two groups that represent, in one case, the “hard” right, and in the other, the “soft” right—Pete Peters’s “Scriptures for America” and James Dobson’s “Focus on the Family”—in order to investigate the specific methods these groups rely on to appeal to their followers. Arguing that today’s right engenders its popularity not by overt bigotry or hatred but by focusing on people’s hopes for their children, Burlein finds a politics of grief at the heart of such rhetoric. While demonstrating how religious symbols, rituals, texts, and practices shape people’s memories and their investment in society, she shows how Peters and Dobson each construct countermemories for their followers that reframe their histories and identities—as well as their worlds—by reversing mainstream perspectives in ways that counter existing power relations. By employing the techniques of niche marketing, the politics of scandal, and the transformation of political issues into “gut issues” and by remasculinizing the body politic, Burlein shows, such groups are able to move people into their realm of influence without requiring them to agree with all their philosophical, doctrinal, or political positions. Lift High the Cross will appeal to students and scholars of religion, American cultural studies, women’s studies, sociology, and gay and lesbian studies, as well as to non-specialists interested in American politics and, specifically, the right.
While it is common knowledge that Abraham Lincoln’s writings were influenced by the King James Bible, until now no full-length study has shown the precise ways in which the Gettysburg Address uses its specific language. This revealing investigation provides a new way to think about the speech and its author.
“This meticulously researched study reveals how the localism inherent among Baptists carries over into political attitudes and involvement. Grammich's 'bible-based' Baptist sectarians also show how diverse Baptists really are and how strong and enduring a social ethic many smaller Baptist groups have cultivated.”—Charles H. Lippy, University of Tennessee, Chattanooga
This provocative book explores the political views and actions of religious adherents who claim to base their faith on a literal interpretation of the Bible. Focusing on several small Baptist sects scattered throughout the middle and uplands South, Clifford Grammich finds that these groups are often highly engaged politically at the local level. He thus challenges the traditional view of these Baptists as politically aloof, concerned only with matters of faith and personal conduct.
Grammich shows that the politics arising from these groups’ religious beliefs are not those of any consistent, pervasive ideology. Rather, he argues, such politics more often reflect a series of adaptations to local circumstances. Among the sects that he studies, there is a strong emphasis on the local authority to interpet the Bible and, thus, to shape religious commands to very specific conditions. Beyond the broad concerns of preserving the traditional family and curbing excessive worldliness, these Baptists are free to adapt their theology to meet their particular needs—and can often do so more readily than those belonging to more hierarchical churches. Since these people are typically more rural, more southern, less educated, and less affluent than most Americans, the author notes, they can face special problems in dealing with modernity—problems that their religion helps them address.
The book includes two case studies that show in depth both the possiblities and limitations of politics within these groups. In a local labor struggle in Tennessee, Baptist sectarians were able to generate more religious support for a United Mine Workers local than was offered by the usual supporters of organized labor in other churches. On the other hand, in an environmental conflict in Kentucky, these Baptists’ traditional community concerns inhibited their participation in a broader reform movement.
Relating the beliefs and actions of the “local Baptists” to various larger themes—including those of cultural traditionalism, economic populism, and increasing affluence—Grammich offers a valuable study of the complex ways in which religious faith can affect political involvement. His book will effect a new understanding of American fundamentalism itself.
The Author: Clifford A. Grammich Jr. is director of research at Heartland Center, a social research institute in Hammond, Indiana.
Analyzing the extensive data gathered by the Public Influences of African American Churches project, which surveyed nearly two thousand churches across the country, Long March Ahead assesses the public policy activism of black churches since the civil rights movement. Social scientists and clergy consider the churches’ work on a range of policy matters over the past four decades: affirmative action, welfare reform, health care, women’s rights, education, and anti-apartheid activism. Some essays consider advocacy trends broadly. Others focus on specific cases, such as the role of African American churches in defeating the “One Florida” plan to end affirmative action in college admissions and state contracting or the partnership forged between police and inner-city black ministers to reduce crime in Boston during the 1990s.
Long March Ahead emphasizes the need for African American churches to complement the excellent work they do in implementing policies set by others by getting more involved in shaping public policy. The contributors explore the efficacy of different means of public policy advocacy and social service delivery, including faith-based initiatives. At the same time, they draw attention to trends that have constrained political involvement by African American churches: the increased professionalization of policy advocacy and lobbying, the underdevelopment of church organizational structures devoted to policy work, and tensions between religious imperatives and political activism. Long March Ahead takes an important look at the political role of African American churches after the great policy achievements of the civil rights era.
Contributors Cathy J. Cohen Megan McLaughlin Columba Aham Nnorum Michael Leo Owens Desiree Pedescleaux Barbara D. Savage R. Drew Smith Emilie Townes Christopher Winship
The Mind That Is Catholic, he presents a retrospective collection of his academic and literary essays written in the past fifty years. In each essay, he exemplifies the Catholic mind at its best--seeing the whole, leaving nothing out.
Montesquieu is rightly famous as a tireless critic of despotism, which he associates in his writings overtly with Asia and the Middle East and not with the apparently more moderate Western models of governance found throughout Europe. However, a careful reading of Montesquieu reveals that he recognizes a susceptibility to despotic practices in the West—and that the threat emanates not from the East, but from certain despotic ideas that inform such Western institutions as the French monarchy and the Roman Catholic Church.
Nowhere is Montesquieu’s critique of the despotic ideas of Europe more powerful than in his enormously influential The Spirit of the Laws, and Vickie B. Sullivan guides readers through Montesquieu’s sometimes veiled, yet sharply critical accounts of Machiavelli, Hobbes, Aristotle, and Plato, as well as various Christian thinkers. He finds deleterious consequences, for example, in brutal Machiavellianism, in Hobbes’s justifications for the rule of one, in Plato’s reasoning that denied slaves the right of natural defense, and in the Christian teachings that equated heresy with treason and informed the Inquisition.
In this new reading of Montesquieu’s masterwork, Sullivan corrects the misconception that it offers simple, objective observations, showing it instead to be a powerful critique of European politics that would become remarkably and regrettably prescient after Montesquieu’s death when despotism wound its way through Europe.
George McGovern is chiefly remembered for his landslide loss to Richard Nixon in 1972. Yet at the time, his candidacy raised eyebrows by invoking the prophetic tradition, an element of his legacy that is little studied. In My Brother's Keeper, Mark A. Lempke explores the influence of McGovern's evangelical childhood, Social Gospel worldview, and conscientious Methodism on a campaign that brought antiwar activism into the mainstream.
McGovern's candidacy signified a passing of the torch within Christian social justice. He initially allied with the ecumenical movement and the mainline Protestant churches during a time when these institutions worked easily with liberal statesmen. But the senator also galvanized a dynamic movement of evangelicals rooted in the New Left, who would dominate subsequent progressive religious activism as the mainline entered a period of decline. My Brother's Keeper argues for the influential, and often unwitting, role McGovern played in fomenting a "Religious Left" in 1970s America, a movement that continues to this day. It joins a growing body of scholarship that complicates the dominant narrative of that era's conservative Christianity.
Across America, strip clubs have come under attack by a politically aggressive segment of the Christian Right. Using plausible-sounding but factually untrue arguments about the harmful effects of strip clubs on their communities, the Christian Right has stoked public outrage and incited local and state governments to impose onerous restrictions on the clubs with the intent of dismantling the exotic dance industry. But an even larger agenda is at work, according to Judith Lynne Hanna. In Naked Truth, she builds a convincing case that the attack on exotic dance is part of the activist Christian Right’s “grand design” to supplant constitutional democracy in America with a Bible-based theocracy.
Hanna takes readers onstage, backstage, and into the community and courts to reveal the conflicts, charges, and realities that are playing out at the intersection of erotic fantasy, religion, politics, and law. She explains why exotic dance is a legitimate form of artistic communication and debunks the many myths and untruths that the Christian Right uses to fight strip clubs. Hanna also demonstrates that while the fight happens at the local level, it is part of a national campaign to regulate sexuality and punish those who do not adhere to Scripture-based moral values. Ultimately, she argues, the naked truth is that the separation of church and state is under siege and our civil liberties—free speech, women’s rights, and free enterprise—are at stake.
Long before oil interests shaped American interaction with the Middle East, the U.S. had a strong influence on the late Ottoman and post-Ottoman region. Covering the period from approximately 1800 to the 1970s, Hans-Lukas Kieser’s compelling Nearest East tells the story of this intimate, identity-building relationship between the U.S. and the Near East.
Kieser chronicles how American missionaries worked to implement their belief in Biblical millennialism, enlightened modernity, and a modern Zion-Israel. Millennialism was part of an American identity that constituted itself religiously in the interaction with and the representation of the “cradle of Zion.” As such, "going Near East" was—at least to American evangelical Protestants—in some ways more important than colonizing the American West. However, many Ottoman Muslims felt threatened by the American missionaries perceiving their successful institutions as an estranging challenge from the outside.
Measuring the long twisted road from the missionary Zion-builders of the early 19th century to the privileged US-Israeli partnership in the late 20th century, Nearest East looks carefully on both sides of the relationship. Kieser uses a wide range of Ottoman, Turkish, French, German and other sources, unfamiliar to most Anglophone readers, to tell this story that will appeal to historians of all stripes.
New Day Begun presents the findings of the first major research project on black churches’ civic involvement since C. Eric Lincoln and Lawrence H. Mamiya’s landmark study The Black Church in the African American Experience. Since the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the scale and scope of African American churches’ civic involvement have changed significantly: the number of African American clergy serving in elective and appointive offices has noticeably increased, as have joint efforts by black churches and government agencies to implement policies and programs. Filling a vacuum in knowledge about these important developments, New Day Begun assesses the social, political, and ecclesiastical factors that have shaped black church responses to American civic and political life since the Civil Rights movement.
This collection of essays analyzes the results of an unprecedented survey of nearly 2,000 African American churches across the country conducted by The Public Influences of African-American Churches Project, which is based at Morehouse College in Atlanta. These essays—by political scientists, theologians, ethicists, and others—draw on the survey findings to analyze the social, historical, and institutional contexts of black church activism and to consider the theological and moral imperatives that have shaped black church approaches to civic life—including black civil religion and womanist and afrocentric critiques. They also look at a host of faith-based initiatives addressing economic development and the provision of social services. New Day Begun presents necessary new interpretations of how black churches have changed—and been changed by—contemporary American political culture. Contributors. Lewis Baldwin, Allison Calhoun-Brown, David D. Daniels III, Walter Earl Fluker, C.R.D. Halisi, David Howard-Pitney, Michael Leo Owens, Samuel Roberts, David Ryden, Corwin Smidt, R. Drew Smith
Nihil Obstat—Latin for "nothing stands in the way"—examines the interplay between religion and politics in East-Central Europe and Russia. While focusing on the postcommunist, late twentieth century, Sabrina P. Ramet discusses developments as far back as the eleventh century to explain the patterns that have developed over time and to show how they still affect contemporary interecclesiastical relations as well as those among Church, state, and society. Based on interview research in Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, and Macedonia, and on materials published in German, Italian, Serbo-Croatian, Polish, Czech, Slovak, Russian, and English, Ramet paints a clear picture of the political and religious fragility of former communist states, which are experiencing some aspects of freedom and choice for the first time. With its comprehensive discussion of the largest religious institutions in the area, especially the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, and its extensive survey of nontraditional religious associations that have become active in the region since 1989, this study makes a distinct contribution to growing discussions about the rise of fundamentalism and the inner dilemmas of modernity. With its depth of information and thoughtful exploration of cultural traditions, Nihil Obstat uniquely presents the ramifications and complexities of European religion in a postcommunist world.
Few question the “right turn” America took after 1966, when liberal political power began to wane. But if they did, No Right Turn suggests, they might discover that all was not really “right” with the conservative golden age. A provocative overview of a half century of American politics, the book takes a hard look at the counterrevolutionary dreams of liberalism’s enemies—to overturn people’s reliance on expanding government, reverse the moral and sexual revolutions, and win the Culture War—and finds them largely unfulfilled.
David Courtwright deftly profiles celebrated and controversial figures, from Clare Boothe Luce, Barry Goldwater, and the Kennedy brothers to Jerry Falwell, David Stockman, and Lee Atwater. He shows us Richard Nixon’s keen talent for turning popular anxieties about morality and federal meddling to Republican advantage—and his inability to translate this advantage into reactionary policies. Corporate interests, boomer lifestyles, and the media weighed heavily against Nixon and his successors, who placated their base with high-profile attacks on crime, drugs, and welfare dependency. Meanwhile, religious conservatives floundered on abortion and school prayer, obscenity, gay rights, and legalized vices like gambling, and fiscal conservatives watched in dismay as the bills mounted.
We see how President Reagan’s mélange of big government, strong defense, lower taxes, higher deficits, mass imprisonment, and patriotic symbolism proved an illusory form of conservatism. Ultimately, conservatives themselves rebelled against George W. Bush’s profligate brand of Reaganism. Courtwright’s account is both surprising and compelling, a bracing argument against some of our most cherished clichés about recent American history.
Masterfully interweaving political, religious, and historical themes, Not by Reason Alone creates a new interpretation of early modern political thought. Where most accounts assume that modern thought followed a decisive break with Christianity, Joshua Mitchell reveals that the line between the age of faith and that of reason is not quite so clear. Instead, he shows that the ideas of Luther, Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau draw on history, rather than reason alone, for a sense of political authority.
This erudite and ambitious work crosses disciplinary boundaries to expose unsuspected connections between political theory, religion, and history. In doing so, it offers a view of modern political thought undistorted by conventional distinctions between the ancient and the modern, and between the religious and the political.
"Original. . . . A delight to read a political philosopher who takes the theologies of Hobbes and Locke seriously." —J. M. Porter, Canadian Journal of History
"Mitchell's argument both illuminates and fascinates. . . . An arresting, even stunning, contribution to our study of modern political thought."—William R. Stevenson, Jr., Christian Scholar's Review
In distinctive voice and tone, cultural commentator Glenn W. Olsen presents his latest work on the place of Catholicism in American history. Here he clarifies the meaning of American modernity for Catholics and shows the conflicts and tensions confronting the religious person today.
While female religious have grown to possess a sense of personal authority in issues impacting the laity, and have come to engage in social-issue-oriented activities, religious institutions have traditionally viewed men as the decision-makers. One Faith, Two Authorities examines the tensions of policy and authority within the gendered nature of the Catholic Church.
Jeanine Kraybilllooks at the influence of Catholic elites—specifically within the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious—and their opinions on public policy and relevant gender dynamics with regard to healthcare, homosexuality, immigration, and other issues. She considers the female religious’ inclusive positions as well as their opposition to ACA for bills that would be rooted in institutional positions on procreation, contraception, or abortion. Kraybill also systematically examines the claims of the 2012 Doctrinal Assessment against the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.
One Faith, Two Authorities considerswhether the sisters and the male clergy are in fact in disagreement about social justice and healthcare issues and/or if women religious have influence.
The roots of conservative Christian skepticism of international politics run deep. In this original work Markku Ruotsila artfully unearths the historical and theological origins of evangelical Christian thought on modern-day international organizations and U.S. foreign policy, particularly in the fierce debates over the first truly international body—the League of Nations.
After describing the rise of the Social Gospel movement that played a vital, foundational role in the movement toward a League of Nations, The Origins of Christian Anti-Internationalism examines the arguments and tactics that the most influential confessional Christian congregations in the United States—dispensational millenialists, Calvinists, Lutherans, and, to a lesser extent, Methodists, Episcopalians, and Christian Restorationists—used to undermine domestic support for the proposed international body. Ruotsila recounts how these groups learned to co-opt less religious-minded politicians and organizations that were likewise opposed to the very concept of international multilateralism. In closely analyzing how the evangelical movement successfully harnessed political activism to sway U.S. foreign policy, he traces a direct path from the successful battle against the League to the fundamentalist-modernist clashes of the 1920s and the present-day debate over America's role in the world.
This exploration of why the United States ultimately rejected the League of Nations offers a lucid interpretation of the significant role that religion plays in U.S. policymaking both at home and abroad. Ruotsila's analysis will be of interest to scholars and practitioners of theology, religious studies, religion and politics, international relations, domestic policy, and U.S. and world history.
This book is a pioneering contribution to the history of the founding of the West German political system after the Second World War. The political cooperation between Catholics and Protestants that resulted in the formation of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in occupied and early West Germany represented a significant change from a long history of hostility in confessional relations. Given that the CDU went on to dominate politics in West Germany well into the 1960s, Maria D. Mitchell argues that an understanding of what made this interconfessional party possible is crucial to an exploration of German history in the postwar period. She examines the political history of party formation as well as the religious beliefs and motivations that shaped the party's philosophy and positions. She provides an authoritative guide to the complex processes of maneuvering and negotiation that produced the CDU during 1945-46. The full range of political possibilities is discussed, including the suppressed alternatives to the Adenauer/Erhard axis that eventually defined the party's trajectory during the 1950s and the abortive Christian Socialism associated with Jacob Kaiser.
A century after his presidency, Woodrow Wilson remains one of the most compelling and complicated figures ever to occupy the Oval Office. A political outsider, Wilson brought to the presidency a distinctive, strongly held worldview, built on powerful religious traditions that informed his idea of America and its place in the world.
With A Peaceful Conquest, Cara Lea Burnidge presents the most detailed analysis yet of how Wilson’s religious beliefs affected his vision of American foreign policy, with repercussions that lasted into the Cold War and beyond. Framing Wilson’s intellectual development in relationship to the national religious landscape, and paying greater attention to the role of religion than in previous scholarship, Burnidge shows how Wilson’s blend of Southern evangelicalism and social Christianity became a central part of how America saw itself in the world, influencing seemingly secular policy decisions in subtle, lasting ways. Ultimately, Burnidge makes a case for Wilson’s religiosity as one of the key drivers of the emergence of the public conception of America’s unique, indispensable role in international relations.
As the presidential election cycle once again raises questions of America’s place in the world, A Peaceful Conquest offers a fascinating excavation of its little-known roots.
Is the "private" experience of religion counterproductive to engagement in public life? Does the "public" experience of religion contribute anything distinctive to civic engagement? Pews, Prayers, and Participation offers a fresh approach to key questions about what role religion plays in fostering civic responsibility in contemporary American society. Written by five prominent scholars of religion and politics, led by Calvin College's Corwin Smidt, the book brilliantly articulates how religion shapes participation in a range of civic activities—from behaviors (such as membership in voluntary associations, volunteering, and charitable contributions) to capacities (such as civic skills and knowledge), to virtues (such as law-abidingness, tolerance, and work ethic).
In the course of their study the authors examine whether an individual exhibits a diminished, a privatized, a public, or an integrated form of religious expression, based on the individual's level of participation in both the public (worship) or private (prayer) dimensions of religious life. They question whether the privatization of religious life is counterproductive to engagement in public life, and they show that religion does indeed play a significant role in fostering civic responsibility across each of its particular facets.
Pews, Prayers, and Participation is a bold and provocative clarion call to the continuing importance and changing nature of religion in American public life. It will be of particular interest to students and scholars of religion and politics, and culture and politics, as well as general readers with an interest in the impact of religion in the public sphere.
After an explosion of conversions to Pentecostalism over the past three decades, tens of millions of Nigerians now claim that “Jesus is the answer.” But if Jesus is the answer, what is the question? What led to the movement’s dramatic rise and how can we make sense of its social and political significance? In this ambitiously interdisciplinary study, Ruth Marshall draws on years of fieldwork and grapples with a host of important thinkers—including Foucault, Agamben, Arendt, and Benjamin—to answer these questions.
To account for the movement’s success, Marshall explores how Pentecostalism presents the experience of being born again as a chance for Nigerians to realize the promises of political and religious salvation made during the colonial and postcolonial eras. Her astute analysis of this religious trend sheds light on Nigeria’s contemporary politics, postcolonial statecraft, and the everyday struggles of ordinary citizens coping with poverty, corruption, and inequality.
Pentecostalism’s rise is truly global, and Political Spiritualities persuasively argues that Nigeria is a key case in this phenomenon while calling for new ways of thinking about the place of religion in contemporary politics.
For well over a century the Catholic Church has articulated clear positions on many issues of public concern, particularly economics, capital punishment, foreign affairs, sexual morality, and abortion. Yet the fact that some of the Church's positions do not mesh well with the platforms of either of the two major political parties in the U.S. may make it difficult for Americans to look to Catholic doctrine for political guidance. Scholars of religion and politics have long recognized the potential for clergy to play an important role in shaping the voting decisions and political attitudes of their congregations, yet these assumptions of political influence have gone largely untested and undemonstrated.
Politics in the Parish is the first empirical examination of the role Catholic clergy play in shaping the political views of their congregations. Gregory Allen Smith draws from recent scholarship on political communication, and the comprehensive Notre Dame Study of Parish Life, as well as case studies he conducted in nine parishes in the mid-Atlantic region, to investigate the extent to which and the circumstances under which Catholic priests are influential in shaping the politics of their parishioners.
Smith is able to verify that clergy do exercise political influence, but he makes clear that such influence is likely to be nuanced, limited in magnitude, and exercised indirectly by shaping parishioner religious attitudes that in turn affect political behavior. He shows that the messages that priests deliver vary widely, even radically, from parish to parish and priest to priest. Consequently, he warns that scholars should exercise caution when making any global assumptions about the political influence that Catholic clergy affect upon their congregations.
"Politics in the Pews probes the internal dynamics of political decision making within the Black church."
---William E. Nelson, Jr., Research Professor, Department of African American and African Studies, Ohio State University
As Eric McDaniel demonstrates in his study of Black congregations in the U.S., a church's activism results from complex negotiations between the pastor and the congregation. The church's traditions, its institutional organization, and its cultural traditions influence the choice to make politics part of the church's mission. The needs of the local community and opportunities to vote, lobby, campaign, or protest are also significant factors.
By probing the dynamics of churches as social groups, McDaniel opens new perspectives on civil rights history and the evangelical politics of the twenty-first century. Politics in the Pews contributes to a clearer understanding of the forces that motivate any organization, religious or otherwise, to engage in politics.
Eric L. McDaniel is Assistant Professor in the Department of Government at the University of Texas at Austin.
This volume of the Building Bridges Seminar, Power:Divine and Human, Christian and Muslim Perspectives, comprises pairs of essays by Christians and Muslims which introduce texts for dialogical study, plus the actual text-excerpts themselves.
This new book goes far beyond mere reporting on a dialogical seminar; rather, it provides guidance and materials for constructing a similar dialogical experience on a particular topic. As a resource for comparative theology, Power:Divine and Human is unique in that it takes up a topic not usually explored in depth in Christian-Muslim conversations. It is written by scholars for scholars. However, in tone and structure, it is suitable for the non-specialist as well. Students (undergraduate and graduate), religious leaders, and motivated non-specialists will find it readable and useful. While it falls solidly in the domain of comparative theology, it can also be used in courses on dialogical reading of scripture, interreligious relations, and political philosophy.
Powerful Devices studies spiritual warfare performances as an apparatus for disestablishing structures of power and knowledge, and establishing righteousness in their stead. Drawing on performance studies’ emphasis on radicality and breaking of social norms as devices of social transformation, the book demonstrates how Christian groups with dominant cultural power but who perceive themselves as embattled wield the ideas of performance activism. Combining religious studies with ethnography, Powerful Devices explores Nigerian Pentecostals and US Evangelicals’ praxis of transnational spiritual warfare. By closely studying spiritual warfare prayers as a “device,” Powerful Devices shows how the rituals of prayer enable an apprehension of time, paradigms of self-enhancement, and the subversion of politics and authority. A critical intervention, Powerful Devices explores charismatic Christianity’s relationship to science and secular authority, technology and temporality, neoliberalism, and reactionary ideology.
In the wake of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, the Christian Right expected major victories in the 1998 elections. Instead, many of its allies lost close contests, and the movement was seen as a liability in some high-profile campaigns. In the only in-depth study of the Christian Right's role in these races, leading scholars analyze the role of the movement in fourteen key states, from Maine to California, and address speculations that the movement is fading from the American political scene.
The book focuses on elections on the state and local levels, where the Christian Right is most influential, and it describes the movement's niche in some detail. Although each campaign described in the book had its unique characteristics, the editors have drawn some broad conclusions about the 1998 elections. While the movement was weak in the areas of candidate recruitment and fundraising, they say, the outcome may have also been related to external factors including a broader turnout of typically Democratic constituencies and the country's boredom with the scandal that conservatives had made the centerpiece of their campaign. Despite the setbacks of 1998, the contributors argue, the Christian Right continues to have an enormous influence on the political dialogue of the country.
Written from an unbiased, nonpartisan perspective, this volume sheds light on a topic that is too frequently mired in controversy.
American culture warriors have plenty to argue about, but battles over such issues as abortion and torture have as much to do with rhetorical style as moral substance. Cathleen Kaveny reframes the debate about religion in the public square by focusing on a powerful stream of religious discourse in American political speech: the Biblical rhetoric of prophetic indictment.
“Important and path-breaking. The place of religious discourse in the American public square has received much attention for many years, but the role of prophetic indictment has been largely overlooked. Kaveny’s book not only opens a ‘new front’ in these debates, but starts the conversation with a rich analysis of the history and function of prophetic discourse.” —Kathleen A. Brady, Commonweal
“A monumental achievement, and a much-needed addition to the academic and societal conversation about the role of religion in public life. In precise prose and with careful analysis, Kaveny challenges some of the leading theorists about public discourse and puts forward her own theories, all accompanied by a storyteller’s gift for anecdote and a philosopher’s talent for explication.” —Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter
Catholicism has long been recognized as one of the major forces shaping the Hispanic Caribbean (Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic) during the nineteenth century, but the role of Protestantism has not been fully explored. Protestantism and Political Conflict in the Nineteenth-Century Hispanic Caribbean traces the emergence of Protestantism in Cuba and Puerto Rico during a crucial period of national consolidation involving both social and political struggle. Using a comparative framework, Martínez-Fernández looks at the ways in which Protestantism, though officially “illegal” for most of the century, established itself, competed with Catholicism, and took differing paths in Cuba and Puerto Rico.
One of the book’s main goals is to trace the links between religion and politics, particularly with regard to early Protestant activities. Protestants encountered a complex social, economic, and political landscape both in Cuba and in Puerto Rico and soon found that their very presence, coupled with their demands for freedom of worship and burial rights, involved them in a series of interrelated struggles in which the Catholic Church was embroiled along with the other main forces of the period—the peasantry, the agrarian bourgeoisie, the mercantile bourgeoisie, and the colonial state. While the established Catholic Church increasingly identified with the conservative, pro-slavery, and colonialist causes, newly arrived Protestants tended to be nationalistic and to pursue particular economic activities—such as cigar exportation in Cuba and the sugar industry in Puerto Rico. The author argues that the early Protestant communities reflected the socio-cultural milieus from which they emerged and were profoundly shaped by the economic activities of their congregants. This influence, in turn, shaped not only the congregations’ composition, but also their political and social orientations.
Since the 2000 presidential election, debate over the role of religion in public life has followed a narrow course as pundits and politicians alike have focused on the influence wielded by conservative Christians. But what about more mainstream Christians? Here, Steven M. Tipton examines the political activities of Methodists and mainline churches in this groundbreaking investigation into a generation of denominational strife among church officials, lobbyists, and activists. The result is an unusually detailed and thoughtful account that upends common stereotypes while asking searching questions about the contested relationship between church and state.
Documenting a wide range of reactions to two radically different events—the invasion of Iraq and the creation of the faith-based initiatives program—Tipton charts the new terrain of religious and moral argument under the Bush administration from Pat Robertson to Jim Wallis. He then turns to the case of the United Methodist Church, of which President Bush is a member, to uncover the twentieth-century history of their political advocacy, culminating in current threats to split the Church between liberal peace-and-justice activists and crusaders for evangelical renewal. Public Pulpits balances the firsthand drama of this internal account with a meditative exploration of the wider social impact that mainline churches have had in a time of diverging fortunes and diminished dreams of progress.
An eminently fair-minded and ethically astute analysis of how churches keep moral issues alive in politics, Public Pulpits delves deep into mainline Protestant efforts to enlarge civic conscience and cast clearer light on the commonweal and offers a masterly overview of public religion in America.
This book examines the intersection of race, political sermons, and social justice. Religious leaders and congregants who discuss and encourage others to do social justice embrace a form of civil religion that falls close to the covenantal wing of American civil religious thought. Clergy and members who share this theological outlook frame the nation as being exceptional in God’s sight. They also emphasize that the nation’s special relationship with the Creator is contingent on the nation working toward providing opportunities for socioeconomic well-being, freedom, and creative pursuits. God’s covenant, thus, requires inclusion of people who may have different life experiences but who, nonetheless, are equally valued by God and worthy of dignity. Adherents to such a civil religious worldview would believe it right to care for and be in solidarity with the poor and powerless, even if they are undocumented immigrants, people living in non-democratic and non-capitalist nations, or members of racial or cultural out-groups. Relying on 44 national and regional surveys conducted between 1941 and 2019, Race and the Power of Sermons on American Politics explores how racial experiences impact the degree to which religion informs social justice attitudes and political behavior. This is the most comprehensive set of analyses of publicly available survey data on this topic.
"This meticulously researched study....discusses a varied array of movements, organizations, and activists, many largely unstudied, who sought to aid the poor and oppressed through Christian social action....[This] thoughtful, lucid book will engage not only historians but also theologians, ethicists, political scientists, sociologists, indeed anyone interested in the convergence of religion and politics in the United States."
--Journal of American History
Robert Craig explores the history of American left-wing Christians who discovered the convergence between radical politics and Christian faith. He examines the life histories of individuals, movements, and organizations that encompass more than a century of American history and discusses the role of religious activism in movements of social transformation.
Craig describes the activists who participated in this (largely ignored) alternative tradition of social action on behalf of the poor. Among those included are Jesse H. Jones, Edward H. Rogers, the Christian Labor Union, and the Knights of labor, which represented workers; Frances Willard and Mother Jones, who worked to improve the status of women and working-class people; Reverdy Ransom, W.E.B. Du Bois, Hubert Harrison, and George Washington Woodbey, who wrestled with the relationship between race and class; Southern radicals, such as Howard Kester, Claude Williams, and the southern Tenant Farmers' Union, which struggled for radical equality; and those involved in the politics of nonviolence, such as Dorothy Day and A.J.. Muste.
"Religion and Radical Politics is a helpful analysis of several chapters in American a religious history....built around a series of biographical sketches that explore the lives of people such as Terence Powederly, Frances Willard, Mother Jones, George Washington Woodbey, Claude Williams, Howard Kester, Harry F. Ward, A.J. Juste, and Dorothy Day. ...[It] is a remarkably strong book."
--Journal of Church and State
"A major contribution to American history and to Christian ethics. It will be controversial in the best way, raising questions which are the right questions, at least right for those who care for a democracy of human rights, universal participation, and social justice."
--David J. O'Brien, College of the Holy Cross
In Religion and the Struggle for European Union, Brent F. Nelsen and James L. Guth delve into the powerful role of religion in shaping European attitudes on politics, political integration, and the national and continental identities of its leaders and citizens.
Nelsen and Guth contend that for centuries Catholicism promoted the universality of the Church and the essential unity of Christendom. Protestantism, by contrast, esteemed particularity and feared Catholic dominance. These differing visions of Europe have influenced the process of postwar integration in profound ways. Nelsen and Guth compare the Catholic view of Europe as a single cultural entity best governed as a unified polity against traditional Protestant estrangement from continental culture and its preference for pragmatic cooperation over the sacrifice of sovereignty. As the authors show, this deep cultural divide, rooted in the struggles of the Reformation, resists the ongoing secularization of the continent. Unless addressed, it threatens decades of hard-won gains in security and prosperity.
Farsighted and rich with data, Religion and the Struggle for European Union offers a pragmatic way forward in the EU's attempts to solve its social, economic, and political crises.
This challenging collection of essays offers a refreshing approach to the troubling--and timely--subject of religion and public policy in America, and the ways in which issues of church and state affect our national identity.
The result of a series of conferences on religion and politics conducted by the Public Religion project at the University of Chicago, funded by a grant from the Pew Charitable Trust, this collection brings together an extraordinarily diverse set of contributors. Represented within its pages are the ideas and opinions of scholars, politicians, and religious leaders with backgrounds in law, politics, history, and divinity, among them Senator Paul Simon of Illinois. With its wide range of critical approaches and varied perspectives, this volume makes a vibrant contribution to the national dialogue on politics and religion.
Chief among the essay topics are the evangelical roots of American political life; early conflicts between Enlightenment thinking and spiritual impulses in developing a national identity; the practical problems that today's politicians face in campaigning; the impact of constitutional and legal language regarding our definitions of religion; and the way in which the media's treatment of our spiriutal life frames our perceptions of it. These thought-provoking essays will inspire readers to rethink, argue, perhaps act, but most importantly, to converse about this timely and important issue.
This volume will have wide cross-disciplinary appeal. Students and scholars of history, religious studies, and political science will find great value within its pages, as will scholars of divinity and law, and members of this general public concerned with the intersection of faith and politics in American life.
As debates rage over the place of faith in our national life, Tocqueville’s nineteenth-century crediting of religion for shaping America is largely overlooked today. Now, in Republicanism, Religion, and the Soul of America, Ellis Sandoz reveals the major role that Protestant Christianity played in the formation and early period of the American republic. Sandoz traces the rise of republican government from key sources in Protestant civilization, paying particular attention to the influence of the Bible on the Founders and the blossoming of the American mind in the eighteenth century.
Sandoz analyzes the religious debt of the emergent American community and its elevation of the individual person as unique in the eyes of the Creator. He shows that the true distinction of American republicanism lies in its grounding of human dignity in spiritual individualism and an understanding of man’s capacity for self-government under providential guidance. Along the way, he addresses such topics as the neglected question of the education of the Founders for their unique endeavor, common law constitutionalism, the place of Latin and Greek classics in the Founders’ thought, and the texture of religious experience from the Great Awakening to the Declaration of Independence
To establish a unifying theoretical perspective for his study, Sandoz considers the philosophical underpinnings of religion and the contribution that Eric Voegelin made to our understanding of religious experience. He contributes fresh studies of the character of Voegelin’s thought: its relationship to Christianity; his debate with Leo Strauss over reason, revelation, and the meaning of philosophy; and the theory of Gnosticism as basic to radical modernity. He also provides a powerful account of the spirit of Voegelin’s later writings, contrasting the political scientist with the meditative spiritualist and offering new insight into volume 5 of Order and History.
Republicanism, Religion, and the Soul of America concludes with timely reflections on the epoch now unfolding in the shadow of Islamic jihadism. Bringing a wide range of materials into a single volume, it confronts current academic concerns with religion while offering new insight into the construction of the American polity—and the heart of Americanism as we know it today.
Essays that explore how Protestants responded to the opportunities and perils of revolution in the transatlantic age
Revolution as Reformation: Protestant Faith in the Age of Revolutions, 1688–1832 highlights the role that Protestantism played in shaping both individual and collective responses to revolution. These essays explore the various ways that the Protestant tradition, rooted in a perpetual process of recalibration and reformulation, provided the lens through which Protestants experienced and understood social and political change in the Age of Revolutions. In particular, they call attention to how Protestants used those changes to continue or accelerate the Protestant imperative of refining their faith toward an improved vision of reformed religion.
The editors and contributors define faith broadly: they incorporate individuals as well as specific sects and denominations, and as much of “life experience” as possible, not just life within a given church. In this way, the volume reveals how believers combined the practical demands of secular society with their personal faith and how, in turn, their attempts to reform religion shaped secular society.
The wide-ranging essays highlight the exchange of Protestant thinkers, traditions, and ideas across the Atlantic during this period. These perspectives reveal similarities between revolutionary movements across and around the Atlantic. The essays also emphasize the foundational role that religion played in people’s attempts to make sense of their world, and the importance they placed on harmonizing their ideas about religion and politics. These efforts produced novel theories of government, encouraged both revolution and counterrevolution, and refined both personal and collective understandings of faith and its relationship to society.
Righteous Indignation uncovers what motivated conservative, mostly middle-class southern farmers to revolt against the Democratic Party by embracing the radical, even revolutionary biracial politics of the People’s Party in the 1890s. While other historians of Populism have looked to economics, changing markets, or various ideals to explain this phenomenon, in Righteous Indignation, Joe Creech posits evangelical religion as the motive force behind the shift.
This illuminating study shows how Populists wove their political and economic reforms into a grand cosmic narrative pitting the forces of God and democracy against those of Satan and tyranny, and energizing their movement with a sacred sense of urgency. This book also unpacks the southern Protestants’ complicated approach to political and economic questions, as well as addressing broader issues about protest movements, race relations, and the American South.
Few relationships have proved more pivotal in changing the course of American politics than those between presidents and social movements. For all their differences, both presidents and social movements are driven by a desire to recast the political system, often pursuing rival agendas that set them on a collision course. Even when their interests converge, these two actors often compete to control the timing and conditions of political change. During rare historical moments, however, presidents and social movements forged partnerships that profoundly recast American politics.
Rivalry and Reform explores the relationship between presidents and social movements throughout history and into the present day, revealing the patterns that emerge from the epic battles and uneasy partnerships that have profoundly shaped reform. Through a series of case studies, including Abraham Lincoln and abolitionism, Lyndon Johnson and the civil rights movement, and Ronald Reagan and the religious right, Sidney M. Milkis and Daniel J. Tichenor argue persuasively that major political change usually reflects neither a top-down nor bottom-up strategy but a crucial interplay between the two. Savvy leaders, the authors show, use social movements to support their policy goals. At the same time, the most successful social movements target the president as either a source of powerful support or the center of opposition. The book concludes with a consideration of Barack Obama’s approach to contemporary social movements such as Black Lives Matter, United We Dream, and Marriage Equality.
Evangelicals and Republicans have been powerful—and active—allies in American politics since the 1970s. But as public opinions have changed, are young evangelicals’ political identities and attitudes on key issues changing too? And if so, why? In Rock of Ages, Jeremiah Castle answers these questions to understand their important implications for American politics and society.
Castle develops his own theory of public opinion among young evangelicals to predict and explain their political attitudes and voting behavior. Relying on both survey data and his own interviews with evangelical college students, he shows that while some young evangelicals may be more liberal in their attitudes on some issues, most are just as firmly Republican, conservative, and pro-life on abortion as the previous generation.
Rock of Ages considers not only what makes young evangelicals different from the previous generation, but also what that means for both the church and American politics.
When Pope Francis recently answered “Who am I to judge?” when asked about homosexuality, he ushered in a new era for the Catholic church. A decade ago, it would have been unthinkable for a pope to express tolerance for homosexuality. Yet shifts of this kind are actually common in the history of Christian groups. Within the United States, Christian leaders have regularly revised their teachings to match the beliefs and opinions gaining support among their members and larger society.
Mark A. Smith provocatively argues that religion is not nearly the unchanging conservative influence in American politics that we have come to think it is. In fact, in the long run, religion is best understood as responding to changing political and cultural values rather than shaping them. Smith makes his case by charting five contentious issues in America’s history: slavery, divorce, homosexuality, abortion, and women’s rights. For each, he shows how the political views of even the most conservative Christians evolved in the same direction as the rest of society—perhaps not as swiftly, but always on the same arc. During periods of cultural transition, Christian leaders do resist prevailing values and behaviors, but those same leaders inevitably acquiesce—often by reinterpreting the Bible—if their positions become no longer tenable. Secular ideas and influences thereby shape the ways Christians read and interpret their scriptures.
So powerful are the cultural and societal norms surrounding us that Christians in America today hold more in common morally and politically with their atheist neighbors than with the Christians of earlier centuries. In fact, the strongest predictors of people’s moral beliefs are not their religious commitments or lack thereof but rather when and where they were born. A thoroughly researched and ultimately hopeful book on the prospects for political harmony, Secular Faith demonstrates how, over the long run, boundaries of secular and religious cultures converge.
Winner: 2005 Book Award from the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women; Selected by the German Studies Association as one of the top five books of 2004 in early modern history
"A fresh, original study of gender roles and religious ideology in the early modern Catholic state. . . . Using a rich array of archival sources, Strasser explores ways in which an increasingly centralized Bavarian government in Munich inaugurated marriage and convent reforms and a civil religion based on the veneration of the Virgin Mary. Her carefully selected case studies show how church and state collaborated to produce a shared discourse and consistent policies proscribing extramarital sex, and excluding those without property from marriage. "
Ulrike Strasser is Associate Professor of History, Affiliate Faculty in Women's Studies, and Core Faculty in Religious Studies at the University of California, Irvine.
Since the 1970s, American society has provided especially fertile ground for the growth of the Christian right and its influence on both political and cultural discourse. In Stations of the Cross political theorist Paul Apostolidis shows how a critical component of this movement’s popular culture—evangelical conservative radio—interacts with the current U.S. political economy. By examining in particular James Dobson’s enormously influential program, Focus on the Family—its messages, politics, and effects—Apostolidis reveals the complex nature of contemporary conservative religious culture. Public ideology and institutional tendencies clash, the author argues, in the restructuring of the welfare state, the financing of the electoral system, and the backlash against women and minorities. These frictions are nowhere more apparent than on Christian right radio. Reinvigorating the intellectual tradition of the Frankfurt School, Apostolidis shows how ideas derived from early critical theory—in particular that of Theodor W. Adorno—can illuminate the political and social dynamics of this aspect of contemporary American culture. He uses and reworks Adorno’s theories to interpret the nationally broadcast Focus on the Family, revealing how the cultural discourse of the Christian right resonates with recent structural transformations in the American political economy. Apostolidis shows that the antidote to the Christian right’s marriage of religious and market fundamentalism lies not in a reinvocation of liberal fundamentals, but rather depends on a patient cultivation of the affinities between religion’s utopian impulses and radical, democratic challenges to the present political-economic order. Mixing critical theory with detailed analysis, Stations of the Cross provides a needed contribution to sociopolitical studies of mass movements and will attract readers in sociology, political science, philosophy, and history.
Taking Faith Seriously
Mary Jo Bane Harvard University Press, 2005 Library of Congress BR517.T35 2005 | Dewey Decimal 261.80973
Whether simply uneasy or downright hostile, the relation between religion and liberal democracy in this country has long been vexed and complex--and crucial to what America is and aspires to be. Amid increasingly contentious exchanges over fundamentalism, abortion rights, secularism, and pluralism, this book reminds us of the critical role that religion plays in the health and well-being of a democracy.
A healthy democracy draws strength from a rich civic and social life, many forms of which are religious. Moreover, these contributions are anchored in the intrinsic commitments of faith, commitments that extend over time, linking generations past and present. Strengthening these commitments and practices, the authors suggest, will also fortify pluralistic civil society and democratic participation. Their book provides the analytical tools and historical perspective for building and reinforcing such a constructive engagement between religion and liberal democracy--and for understanding the ongoing dialogue between secular political philosophy and communities of faith.
Taking Faith Seriously offers nine case studies that describe the multiple and subtle roles that religion plays on many levels in our civic life: increasing moral and social "capital," inspiring citizens to serve their neighbors, building relationships across barriers of race and income, and providing a moral vision of what kind of society we are called to be.
The essays in Theology and the Political—written by some of the world’s foremost theologians, philosophers, and literary critics—analyze the ethics and consequences of human action. They explore the spiritual dimensions of ontology, considering the relationship between ontology and the political in light of the thought of figures ranging from Plato to Marx, Levinas to Derrida, and Augustine to Lacan. Together, the contributors challenge the belief that meaningful action is simply the successful assertion of will, that politics is ultimately reducible to “might makes right.” From a variety of perspectives, they suggest that grounding human action and politics in materialist critique offers revolutionary possibilities that transcend the nihilism inherent in both contemporary liberal democratic theory and neoconservative ideology.
Contributors. Anthony Baker, Daniel M. Bell Jr., Phillip Blond, Simon Critchley, Conor Cunningham, Creston Davis, William Desmond, Hent de Vries, Terry Eagleton, Rocco Gangle, Philip Goodchild, Karl Hefty, Eleanor Kaufman, Tom McCarthy, John Milbank, Antonio Negri, Catherine Pickstock, Patrick Aaron Riches, Mary-Jane Rubenstein, Regina Mara Schwartz, Kenneth Surin, Graham Ward, Rowan Williams, Slavoj Žižek
The Transformation of the Christian Right chronicles and analyzes the remarkable changes that have occurred in the Christian Right from its emergence in the late 1970s to the present. It documents the rapid turnover of Christian-Right organizations and explains the forces driving that kaleidoscopic change. Moen also traces the strategic shift of the movement’s leaders, away from lobbying the Congress and toward mobilizing conservative activists in the grass roots; he demonstrates the substitution of liberal language (with its emphasis on “equality, rights, and freedom”) for moralistic language (with its focus on “right and wrong”). Much has been written about the Christian Right’s impact on politics but little about how years of political activism have shaped and influenced the Christian Right. Moen addresses that neglected side of the issue.
The first scholarly treatment of the strategies employed by the New Christian Right in litigating cases regarding religion
Trumping Religion provides a detailed analysis of the five major public-interest law firms that have litigated religion cases in the federal courts between 1980 and 2000. Allied with several highly vocal, evangelical ministries, such as those of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robinson, these legal organizations argue that religious expression is a form of protected speech and thereby gain a greater latitude of interpretation in the courts. The long-term agenda of the New Christian Right as illuminated by this study is to shape church-state jurisprudence in a way that permits free course for the Christian gospel.
Steven P. Brown presents his research and conclusions from a balanced viewpoint. In filling a distinct void in the literature, this book will be of considerable interest to political scientists, legal scholars, law schools and seminaries, and anyone concerned with the intersection of religion and judicial politics.
The first comprehensive history of the Vatican’s agenda to defeat the forces of secular liberalism and communism through international law, cultural diplomacy, and a marriage of convenience with authoritarian and right-wing rulers.
After the United States entered World War I and the Russian Revolution exploded, the Vatican felt threatened by forces eager to reorganize the European international order and cast the Church out of the public sphere. In response, the papacy partnered with fascist and right-wing states as part of a broader crusade that made use of international law and cultural diplomacy to protect European countries from both liberal and socialist taint.
A Twentieth-Century Crusade reveals that papal officials opposed Woodrow Wilson’s international liberal agenda by pressing governments to sign concordats assuring state protection of the Church in exchange for support from the masses of Catholic citizens. These agreements were implemented in Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany, as well as in countries like Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. In tandem, the papacy forged a Catholic International—a political and diplomatic foil to the Communist International—which spread a militant anticommunist message through grassroots organizations and new media outlets. It also suppressed Catholic antifascist tendencies, even within the Holy See itself.
Following World War II, the Church attempted to mute its role in strengthening fascist states, as it worked to advance its agenda in partnership with Christian Democratic parties and a generation of Cold War warriors. The papal mission came under fire after Vatican II, as Church-state ties weakened and antiliberalism and anticommunism lost their appeal. But—as Giuliana Chamedes shows in her groundbreaking exploration—by this point, the Vatican had already made a lasting mark on Eastern and Western European law, culture, and society.
The Unity of the Nations
Joseph Ratzinger Catholic University of America Press, 2015 Library of Congress BR115.P7R42613 2015 | Dewey Decimal 261.7
What did ancient Christians and pagans believe makes the unity of the nations? Just as he began serving as a major adviser at the Second Vatican Council in 1962, Joseph Ratzinger (the future Pope Benedict XVI) studied this question in lectures delivered at Austria's University of Salzburg. These lectures, originally published in German, are now made available in English in this volume.
Before the Second Vatican Council, America’s Catholics operated largely as a coherent voting bloc, usually in connection with the Democratic Party. Their episcopal leaders generally spoke for Catholics in political matters; at least, where America’s bishops asserted themselves in public affairs there was little audible dissent from the faithful.
More than occasionally, the immigrant Church’s eagerness to demonstrate its patriotic bona fides furthered its tendency to speak with one voice about national matters, and in line with the broader societal consensus. And, notwithstanding the considerable conflict which Catholics encountered, and generated, in American political life, there was before the Council broad agreement in American culture about the centrality of Biblical morality to the success of Americans’ experiment with republican government.
In other words: before the Council, American Catholics’ relationship to the political common good was mediated, somewhat uncritical, and insulated from conflict (both within and without the Church) over such fundamental matters as protection of innocent life, marriage and family life, and (to a lesser extent) religious liberty.
This has all changed since the mid-1960s. For the first time in the Church’s pilgrimage on these shores, controversial questions about the basic moral requirements of the political common good are front and center for America’s Catholics. These questions require Catholics to confront matters which heretofore they either took for granted, read off from the background culture, or which they left to the bishops to handle. But the Council Fathers rightly recognized that Jesus calls upon a formed and informed laity to act as leaven in the public realm, to bring Gospel values to the temporal sphere. In this book of essays touching upon Catholic social doctrine, the truth about human equality and political liberty, and religious faith as it bears upon public life and the public engagement of lay Catholics, Gerard Bradley supplies indispensable aid to those seeking to answer Jesus’ call.
Even before the emergence of the civil rights movement with black churches at its center, African American religion and progressive politics were assumed to be inextricably intertwined. In her revelatory book, Barbara Savage counters this assumption with the story of a highly diversified religious community whose debates over engagement in the struggle for racial equality were as vigorous as they were persistent. Rather than inevitable allies, black churches and political activists have been uneasy and contentious partners.
From the 1920s on, some of the best African American minds—W. E. B. Du Bois, Carter G. Woodson, Benjamin Mays, Nannie Helen Burroughs, Mary McLeod Bethune, Charles S. Johnson, and others—argued tirelessly about the churches’ responsibility in the quest for racial justice. Could they be a liberal force, or would they be a constraint on progress? There was no single, unified black church but rather many churches marked by enormous intellectual, theological, and political differences and independence. Yet, confronted by racial discrimination and poverty, churches were called upon again and again to come together as savior institutions for black communities.
The tension between faith and political activism in black churches testifies to the difficult and unpredictable project of coupling religion and politics in the twentieth century. By retrieving the people, the polemics, and the power of the spiritual that animated African American political life, Savage has dramatically demonstrated the challenge to all religious institutions seeking political change in our time.