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Evangelicals and Democracy in America

Religion and Politics

Steven Brint, Jean Reith Schroedel

Publication Year: 2011

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.

Published by: Russell Sage Foundation

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. iii-iv


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pp. v-vi

About the Authors

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. 1-21

From the beginning, Americans have held disparate views on the role religion should play in public life. On the one hand, many colonial governments were established under biblical covenants, where God was called upon to witness the creation of the...

PART I: Christian Conservatives and Partisan Politics

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Chapter 1: A Global Perspective: U.S. Exceptionalism (Again?)

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pp. 25-56

Since at least the mid-twentieth century, Protestants have been part of the bedrock Republican voting base. In the early 1990s, the American party system experienced an important long-term realignment, however: as the religious population shifted toward the...

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Chapter 2: Interests, Values, and Party Identification between 1972 and 2006

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pp. 57-82

Conservative Protestants developed political clout just as two other major political trends emerged in the United States. The South realigned with the Republicans and party loyalty once again dictated the outcome of presidential elections. The conventional...

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Chapter 3: Voting Your Values

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pp. 83-104

The 2004 National Election Pool (NEP) exit poll, conducted for a consortium of media organizations, propelled moral values to the forefront of the public discussion about the forces that drive political behavior. It asked voters to select from a predetermined list the one...

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Chapter 4: Moral-Values Politics: The Emergence of an Electoral System

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pp. 105-140

A central paradox of contemporary political life in the United States is that white evangelical Protestants have expressed a wide variety of views on social and policy issues, including moderate to liberal views on many issues involving inequalities in American...

PART II: Discourses of Mobilization and Public Reason

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Chapter 5: Politicized Evangelicalism and Secular Elites: Creating a Moral Other

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pp. 143-178

In the discourse of much contemporary conservative Protestant evangelicalism, particularly that concerned with the place of religion in politics and the public sphere, one group stands out—portrayed as perhaps a singular threat to evangelical religion specifically, religion in...

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Chapter 6: Mobilizing Evangelicals: Christian Reconstructionism and the Roots of the Religious Right

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pp. 179-208

Studies that date the origins of the Christian Right to the late 1970s and early 1980s have generally failed to explore the groundwork that prepared the way for the movement throughout the 1960s and into the 1970s. In this chapter, I argue that a small group within...

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Chapter 7: The Christian Right, Public Reason, and American Democracy

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pp. 209-246

Over the last thirty years, the Christian Right has become an increasingly powerful voice in American democracy. From Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority to Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition to James Dobson’s Focus on the Family, Christian Right organizations...

PART III: Cycles and the Evolution of a Movement

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Chapter 8: The Decline, Transformation, and Revival of the Christian Right in the United States

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pp. 249-279

DEMOCRACY IN America offers an idealized portrayal of the role of religion in politics, in which churches supported religious toleration, kept aloof from politics, and had little influence on public opinion. We would never guess from de Tocqueville’s account that the...

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Chapter 9: Moral Values and Political Parties: Cycles of Conflict and Accommodation

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pp. 280-304

The Christian Right has become a leading factor in Republican Party politics in the United States over the past twenty-five years. Although many scholars and pundits have focused on the movement in national politics, the Christian Right has been active and...

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Chapter 10: Politics as the Construction of Relations: Religious Identity and Political Expression

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pp. 305-330

Historically, American evangelicalism has been a protesting movement, one committed to reform on selective moral issues (Marsden 2006; Young 2002). As such, the evangelical movement has often been more defined by political issues than theological...

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Chapter 11: Of Movements and Metaphors: The Coevolution of the Christian Right and the GOP

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pp. 331-356

On May 3, 2007, competing Republican presidential candidates were asked to raise their hands if they did not believe in evolution. Three candidates—Senator Sam Brownback, former governor Mike Huckabee, and Representative Tom Tacredo—raised their...


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pp. 357-373

E-ISBN-13: 9781610447669
Print-ISBN-13: 9780871540126

Page Count: 384
Publication Year: 2011

Volume Title: Religion and Politics