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God and Country

America in Red and Blue

Sheila Kennedy

Publication Year: 2007

Americans increasingly think in terms of red and blue. God and Country examines the religious roots of these cultural divisions in American political life. But instead of pitting a people of faith against a secular humanist elite, God and Country helps Americans understand the religious differences that divide, appreciate the public agreements that allow us to live with religious differences, evaluate how existing democratic processes alleviate divisions, and identify ways Americans can agree to disagree.

Published by: Baylor University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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CONTENTS

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pp. v-vi

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

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pp. vii-viii

I was aware when I began to write this book that I had set out across an intellectually treacherous terrain. An exploration of religious influences on American policy required not only a careful review of American historical and religious experience, but also at least a superficial familiarity with the scholarly literatures of several discrete policy ...

PART I. What is a Paradigm, and Why Does It Matter?

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pp. ix-x

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Chapter 1. HABITS OF THE MIND—THINKING IN RED AND BLUE

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pp. 1-20

Is America coming apart? If you turn on a “public affairs” television program, listen to talk radio, or attend a lawmaker’s “town meeting,” you are likely to witness the increasing stridence and incivility of what currently passes for democratic discourse. Our elected officials seem unable to engage with each other in anything approaching a productive ...

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Chapter 2. AMERICA’S RELIGIOUS ROOTS

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pp. 21-36

Listening to some of the “talking heads” who increasingly dominate broadcast media, one might be forgiven for assuming that Americans are engaged in unrelenting religious warfare. Citizens wishing each other “Happy Holidays” are accused of anti-Christian bias. National tragedies are explained as God’s vengeance for (other) Americans’ ...

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Chapter 3. A NEW PARADIGM

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pp. 37-54

In his introduction to The Founding Fathers and the Place of Religion in America, Frank Lambert captures in a few brief paragraphs the enormous disparity between the religious worldviews of the early Puritans and those of the nation’s Founders. Those paragraphs are worth quoting, because they illuminate both the genesis of our warring political ...

PART II. The Democratic Dialectic

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pp. 55-56

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Chapter 4. CONFLICT AND CHANGE

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pp. 57-82

If our contemporary civic battles were simply a result of inconsistent, Puritan versus Enlightenment worldviews, the outlines of our disputes would be clearer, but our prospects for a shared civic ethos would arguably be dimmer. Fortunately, cultures are not static; they change and are changed by historical experience. American history since the ...

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Chapter 5. THE CULTURE WAR CONSIDERED

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pp. 83-102

In 2003, when federal courts required the removal of the five-ton granite stone displaying the Ten Commandments erected at the Alabama Supreme Court by Judge Roy Moore, supporters rallying in support of Judge Moore were interviewed by television reporters. Virtually all of them denounced the removal of the monument as an infringement of ...

PART III. Paradigm and Policy: Now You See It, Now You Don’t

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pp. 103-104

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Chapter 6. THE USUAL SUSPECTS

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pp. 105-124

Christopher Mooney has offered an insight critical to our understanding of contemporary culture war debates: morality policies are “no less than legal sanctions of right and wrong, validations of particular sets of fundamental values” (2001, 3). He also highlights a factor essential to understanding both the reason particular conflicts emerge when they do ...

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Chapter 7. RELIGION, WEALTH, AND POVERTY

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pp. 125-146

Political scientists have often noted that Jews “look like” Episcopalians, but vote like blacks. That is, while Jews are demographically similar to (historically Republican) Episcopalians, they resemble African Americans in their voting patterns. More recently, Democratic activists have publicly expressed frustration over working-class voting behaviors ...

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Chapter 8. RELIGION, SCIENCE, AND THE ENVIRONMENT

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pp. 147-162

It might seem that issues of environmental protection, dependent as they are on hard scientific evidence and analysis, would be relatively unaffected by religiously rooted paradigms. And that is arguably the case; debates over environmental policy tend to be conducted within a largely Enlightenment framework. As a number of studies confirm, ...

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Chapter 9. SIN AND CRIME

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pp. 163-180

There has been substantial research by criminal justice scholars on the relationship—or lack thereof—between religiosity and criminal behavior. Researchers have explored the effectiveness of prison ministries; religious efforts to counter drug addiction, prevent juvenile delinquency, and remake or rethink prisons; and the connections between ...

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Chapter 10. GOD AND COUNTRY, US AND THEM

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pp. 181-206

The incomplete (and occasionally incoherent) synthesis of Americans’ Puritan and Enlightenment worldviews is particularly confounding in the foreign policy arena. If our Enlightenment-rooted reliance on science and empirical evidence has been the predominant influence on national attitudes about the natural environment, religiously rooted ...

PART IV. Living Together

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pp. 207-208

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Chapter 11. LIVING TOGETHER

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pp. 209-232

The question we face is quite simple: What do we do? If our understandings of the nature of liberty and our very perceptions of reality are at odds, if our policy disputes are inescapably intertwined with our incompatible conceptual paradigms, how do we talk to each other? How do we live together? How do we forge a working political community ...

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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pp. 233-246

INDEX

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pp. 247-254


E-ISBN-13: 9781602580749
E-ISBN-10: 160258074X
Print-ISBN-13: 9781932792997
Print-ISBN-10: 1932792996

Page Count: 264
Publication Year: 2007

Edition: 1st

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Subject Headings

  • United States -- Social conditions.
  • Religion and politics -- United States.
  • Social conflict -- United States.
  • United States -- Politics and government.
  • Polarization (Social sciences) -- United States.
  • Paradigms (Social sciences) -- United States.
  • Cultural pluralism -- United States.
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