The Quiet Hand of God
Faith-Based Activism and the Public Role of Mainline Protestantism
Publication Year: 2002
The contributors to this volume address religion's larger role in society and cover such topics as welfare, ecology, family, civil rights, and homosexuality. Pioneering, timely, and meticulously researched, The Quiet Hand of God will be an essential reference to the dynamics of American religion well into the twenty-first century.
Published by: University of California Press
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Title Page, Copyright
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Tables and Figures
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In 1998 the Religion Division ofthe PewCharitableTrustsofPhiladelphia,under the guidance of Director Luis E. Lugo, initiated a series of projectscalled Religious Communities and the Public Square, the aim of which wasto further both the understanding and the effectiveness of religion’s rolein strengthening and preserving civic life in America. The Public Role of...
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Since 1970, the United States has experienced a large number of socialdevelopments that have brought religion face to face with governmentandwith the wider community in often unanticipated and sometimes conflic-tive ways. These developments include the mobilization of religiousforceson the abortion issue following Roe v. Wade in 1973; Jimmy Carter’s...
Part Ihistory, organization,and activities
1 The Logic of MainlineChurchliness
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In his classic study, The Social Sources of Denominationalism (1929),H. Richard Niebuhr denounced the “denominational self-consciousnessand inertia” that had frustratedaunitedethicalwitnessinAmericanChris-tianity. The theological differences among Christian groups, he believed,tended to obscure the social origins of denominationalism in modern prej-...
2 Mainline ProtestantWashington Offices and thePolitical Lives of Clergy
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Despite the official separation of church and state in the United States,clergy have always played public roles in American politics.ReverendJohnWitherspoon of New Jersey signed the Declaration of Independence, andReverend Abraham Baldwin of Georgia was one of the framers of theUnited States Constitution. Countless other clergy have shaped the course...
3 The Generous Sideof Christian Faith
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Laywomen’s organizations have long played an important role in Ameri-can Protestantism and in modern civic life more widely. During the nine-teenth century, churchwomen within and across denominational bounda-ries worked together for slave emancipation, temperance, and femalesuffrage, to name only three of the most notable issues. Women’s mission...
4 Religious Variationsin Public Presence
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Religion and religious organizations are enjoying (or, perhaps, enduring)renewed attention from scholars and public officials. This renewed atten-tion probably does not represent increased appreciation of religion quareligion—spirituality, theology, ritual, worship, or other core religiousop-erations or concerns. Rather, it is largely driven by interest in what...
5 Connecting Mainline ProtestantChurches with Public Life
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The terms mainline and civic have long been seen as nearlysynonymous.As earlier chapters in this volume have shown, churches in the historicProtestant “mainstream” have drawn on both their theological heritageand their position at the center of American culture to make unique con-tributions to the well-being of our society.1 That legacy—and possible...
6 The Changing Political Fortunesof Mainline Protestants
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In the first two decades after World War II, the political worldsofmainlineProtestants were remarkably stable. Mainline voters regularly provided alarge and stable bloc of votes for Republican candidates in national elec-tions. In particular, they provided key support for the Eisenhower/Nixon/Rockefeller “liberal” wing of the Republican Party, with its characteristic...
Part IIinvolvement inpublic issues
7 Furthering the Freedom Struggle
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About ten years ago Old Northbury Congregational, a church with anexclusively white membership located in a wealthy Connecticut suburb,entered into a partnership with Mt. Pisgah, a black Baptist church servinga poor community in Hartford. John Biggs, chair of Old Northbury’ssocialaction committee, was in on it from the beginning. The partnership was...
8 The Hydra and the Swords
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Religious institutions took center stage in the rhetoric of America’s fightagainst poverty in the 1990s. Over the course of the decade, both politicalliberals and conservatives increasingly came to view churches and otherfaith-based organizations as uniquely effective providers of social servicesfor the poor. In their first major policy speeches of the 2000 presidential...
9 Caring for Creation
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Prominently displayed inside the Episcopal Church’s famous St. John theDivine Cathedral in New York City is a huge quartz crystal. A plaque saysthe crystal is “200 Million Years Old” and is placed there “To Honor theBeauty of God’s Creation and Our Sacred Stewardship of Planet Earth.”Such a display celebrating a Christian role in preserving the environ-...
10 Vital Conflicts
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For the past thirty years, the mainline churches have been thinking about,talking about, and quite often arguing about homosexuality. In the pastten years, the debates have increased in intensity and been broadcast onthe front pages of religious and secular newspapers across the country.Theupswing in mainline churches’ activities around homosexuality come at a...
11 For the Sake of the Children?
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The dramatic demographic shifts that have marked the last three decadeshave occasioned sustained public interest in the nature, health, and pros-pects of the family. Thischapter, whichfocusesontherelationshipbetweenmainline Protestantism and the family from 1950 up to the present, sug-gests that this interest is well deserved: changes in the American family...
12 From Engagementto Retrenchment
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On 16 February 1984, President Ronald Reagan sent a letter to approx-imately five hundred American religious leaders extolling the progressbeing made in the U.S. Congress toward the passage of a voluntary schoolprayer amendment. One can only imagine the president’s astonishmentwhen, just two weeks later, twenty-three prominent American clergy-...
13 Doing Good and Doing Well
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The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility and the mainlinechurches, as institutional investors and advocates, are slowly changing theway a significant percentage of American dollars are invested. Throughshareholder activism at the annual meetings of major corporations, laymembers and clergy demand changes in corporate policy on many issues,...
14 Love Your Enemies?
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The teachings of Jesus—who insisted that his followers love their ene-mies—raise serious questions today, as they did in the early church, aboutwar, human rights, and economic justice in a nation’s foreign policy. Thesequestions may be rarely discussed in Congress or the news media,buttheyare the focus of considerable activity on the part of religious institutions,...
15 Beyond Quiet Influence?
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Judging from newspaper headlines and television advertising, the Amer-ican public is preoccupied with shallow materialistic pursuits—eating atgourmet restaurants, shopping and trading stock on the Internet, andsplurging on cruise vacations and sports utility vehicles. On the rare oc-casion when religion becomes newsworthy, its message appears to be pre-...
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Page Count: 440
Publication Year: 2002