The Sacred and the Profane: Religious Revivals Often Turn Political
Witham, Larry, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
Last of three parts
As Virginia Democrats urge their Republican counterparts to keep religion out of this year's governor's race, state school board member Kay Coles James says that sounds like bigotry.
"The specter of `no Irish need apply' seems to have been replaced with `Religious conservatives have no legitimate voice in the public debate about the future of education for their children,' " says Mrs. James, a black Christian and a Republican.
If history is any guide, eras of intense religious renewal and awakening expand the political influence of figures like Mrs. James, dean of the school of government at Pat Robertson's Regent University. Broad-based popular religious movements invariably have led to changes in social and cultural attitudes. And, often, political action followed.
This concluding article in a three-part series on the signs of a new American "awakening" examines the impact of enthusiastic or life-changing religion on secular society - a final measure, religious leaders and scholars say, of a faith-based movement's ability to transform the larger society.
"Most educated Americans know that religion had some effect on reform movements, but they couldn't write a paragraph about the events," said Warren Nord, director of humanities at the University of North Carolina.
Mr. Nord's analysis of U.S. history textbooks found that they hardly discuss the First and Second Great Awakenings, or that the civil rights movement was born in black churches.
With the help of a few modern scholars, however, the role of religious impulses in social reform is gaining new respect.
Gertrude Himmelfarb, noted …
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Publication information: Article title: The Sacred and the Profane: Religious Revivals Often Turn Political. Contributors: Witham, Larry - Author. Newspaper title: The Washington Times (Washington, DC). Publication date: August 27, 1997. Page number: 1. © 2009 The Washington Times LLC. COPYRIGHT 1997 Gale Group.
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