Pulpit and Politics
Clergy in American Politics at the Advent of the Millennium
Publication Year: 2004
Published by: Baylor University Press
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This effort draws upon the assistance and cooperation of many individuals, without whom this volume would not be possible. First of all, I need to thank the various scholars who participated in the Cooperative Clergy Study Project; your enthusiastic response to the idea of this research project and your wonderful cooperation in conducting the surveys made the proposed project a reality. Expressions of appreciation...
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Part 1: Introduction
1. Theological and Political Orientations of Clergy within American Politics: An Analytic and Historical Overview
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The advent of the new millennium provides an important opportunity to examine afresh the theological and political positions expressed by clergy within contemporary American life. Clergy have long been important forces in American politics, whether one considers their public pronouncements during the Revolutionary War, their championing of benevolent societies during the Second Great Awakening, their...
Part 2: Politics of Mainline Protestant Clergy
2. American Baptist Convention
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The American Baptist Convention is an association of churches that highly values individual religious freedom and local church autonomy. In light of this emphasis, American Baptist clergy seek to guide their congregations toward responsible civic behavior and attitudes within the context of individual and church freedom. These fundamental values shape the social organization, theology, and political engagement of...
3. Disciples of Christ
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Clergy are paradigmatic of other elites who hold leadership positions in nongovernmental social institutions. The primary responsibility of such leaders is not political participation, yet their profession places them in a position where they may find politics relevant to the community-leadership role bestowed upon them by their status as organizational leaders. At the same time, though, clergy are unique in American society...
4. Evangelical Lutheran Church of America
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While many scholars have written about Lutheran theology, ethics, and church history, no social scientist since Lawrence Kersten (1970) has focused on the politics of either the Lutheran clergy or laity.17 The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) is the largest Lutheran body in the United States. The denomination was forged in 1988, when three Lutheran bodies (the Lutheran Church in America, the American...
5. Presbyterian Church (USA)
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The Presbyterian Church (USA) has long been one of the most active denominations in the United States in the areas of politics and public life. Since the early 1700s, Presbyterians have played a major role in American religious, social, and political history. This engagement in social and political life stems from Reformed theology that arose largely out of the theological perspectives advanced by John Calvin, John Knox,...
6. Reformed Church in America
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The Reformed Church in America (RCA) is the direct outgrowth of the immigration of Dutch colonists to the United States over a span of more than three hundred years. Despite its long history on American soil, the RCA remains relatively small, having long tied its outreach primarily to individuals of Dutch descent. Yet, in contrast to this ethnic distinctiveness, RCA clergy tend to fall in the moderate or middle range on religious...
7. United Methodist Church
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The United Methodist Church (UMC) is the largest mainline Protestant denomination and the third largest religious body in the United States. Of some two dozen churches within the Methodist- Pietist denominational family, it has the greatest number of members. All these churches originated in the Methodist revival begun by John Wesley in 1729, which found its fullest development in the United...
Part 3: Politics of Evangelical Protestant Clergy
8. Southern Baptist Convention
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Over the past twenty years, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has undergone a remarkable theological, organizational, and political transformation. Throughout the 1980s, theological conservatives mounted a sustained and ultimately successful campaign to “take back” the SBC from the hands of denominational bureaucrats and theological moderates. As a result, conservative militants not only came to dominate...
9. Churches of Christ
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The Churches of Christ is an offspring of the largest church group whose origins are strictly American. Historically, the Churches of Christ traces its roots to a primitive back-to-the-Bible revivalist movement of the early part of the nineteenth century.22 Leaders of what is today known as the Restoration Movement included three ex-Presbyterian ministers: Alexander Campbell, Thomas Campbell, and Barton W....
10. Lutheran Church–Missouri-Synod
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Dr. Kieschnick’s words in the wake of the September 11 attacks are consistent with evangelical Protestant theology: human sin spawned the attacks; governments work to protect their citizens. At a deeper level, however, the statement in its entirety is a textbook example of the Lutheran philosophy of two kingdoms—both in theory and practice. Recognizing the totality of sin in the world, Lutherans are hesitant to try...
11. Presbyterian Church in America
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The Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) is neither large nor old, but it is increasingly visible among American evangelical churches. The denomination began in 1973 with 260 churches and 40,000 members concentrated primarily in the states of the Old South. It now includes more than 1,300 congregations comprising more than 300,000 members located in 47 states.
12. Christian Reformed Church
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The controversial and closely contested 2000 presidential election in the United States has provided scholars and journalists alike with unique opportunities for analysis and explanation. Some observers, for example, have noted specific regional patterns in the 2000 presidential vote, making distinctions between “red states,” primarily heartland areas, which tended to vote for George W. Bush, and “blue states,” mostly coastal...
13. Church of the Nazarene
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The Church of the Nazarene is a denomination in the Wesleyan/Holiness tradition, which has always held a strong commitment to social justice as well as to personal evangelism. One of the original founders, Phineas Bresee, wrote, “The evidence of the presence of Jesus in our midst is that we bear the gospel, primarily, to the poor. . . . Let the poor be fed and clothed; let us pour out our substances for this purpose; but...
14. Assemblies of God
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The Assemblies of God is the largest Pentecostal denomination in the United States. It originated in the Pentecostal revivals of the early twentieth century, one of several religious movements that operated on the fringes of American Protestantism and the margins of mainstream society. This outsider status extended to politics, where Pentecostals were widely regarded as apolitical, a tendency that was especially pronounced...
15. Evangelical Free Church of America
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The Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA) is a small, but growing, evangelical Protestant denomination within American religious life. Historically, its roots are grounded in Scandinavia, particularly in terms of church-state relationships within countries of that region. From its birth in 1880s America through the mid-twentieth century, the loose association of churches that would later merge into the EFCA was...
16. Mennonite Church USA
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For few religious groups have political questions been more central to their identity than to Mennonites. As descendents of the Anabaptist wing of the Reformation, the Mennonites have focused above all on pacifism or nonresistance to evil. Adhering to a “two kingdoms” doctrine, they have respected the authority of the state as an instrument of God against evildoers, but have refused to participate in the state’s use...
Part 4: Beyond the Two-Party Protestant System
17. American Rabbis
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The 2000 election was groundbreaking for the Jewish community. Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), an observant Orthodox Jew, was nominated to be the Democratic vice-presidential candidate. In addition, the presidential election events, especially in Florida, highlighted the important and sometimes central role of the Jewish community in American politics. And further, current events in Israel ensured that a...
18. Roman Catholic Priests
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In recent years, there has been increased interest in the politics of Roman Catholicism among academic observers and political activists alike. Such attention to the political behavior of Catholics is not surprising; by any measure, Catholics are an enormous constituency, representing the largest religious denomination in the United States.36 Further, this huge component of the U.S. population is disproportionately concentrated in...
19. African Methodist Episcopal Church
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Following the end of the Civil War, the black church emerged as the dominant institution within black communities. Not only was the church central in the lives of African Americans, but it became the “womb of black culture” and mothered other major social institutions as well. It is difficult to underestimate the historical importance of black churches within the communal life of black Americans. The church contributed...
20. Church of God in Christ
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The Church of God in Christ (COGIC) is the youngest and most theologically orthodox of all the historically black Christian denominations, and it is quickly becoming the largest of the black Protestant church groups. The denomination differs from the black Baptists and AME blacks both historically and theologically; it was not created out of racial differences or conflicts, but was generated as a result of theological...
21. Unitarian-Universalist Association
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The Unitarian-Universalist Association (UUA) is the quintessential liberal denomination in the United States. Dedicated to a “free and responsible search for truth and meaning” and the “inherent worth and dignity of every person,” the UUA embodies the modernist element in Christian thought as well as a rich variety of beliefs and perspectives from other sources. The UUA is a community of freethinkers, filling an...
22. Willow Creek Association
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The growth of nondenominational Protestantism is one of the most significant developments in American religion in the past fifty years. While the independent Bible church movement originated in the late nineteenth century, most of America’s large nondenominational churches came into existence only in the past generation. This growth not only reflects the enduring power of religious movements, especially those centered...
Part 5: Conclusion
23. This World Is Not My Home?
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Religion and political life are not static in nature. A multitude of factors can affect either religious or political life, modifying or erasing previous patterns that characterized either domain. The chapters of this volume have analyzed the social characteristics, theological stands, and the political norms, policy positions, and political behavior of clergy across different denominations and religious faiths following the 2000 presidential...
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Index [Includes Back Cover]
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Page Count: 352
Publication Year: 2004