Politics and Religious Authority: American Catholics since the Second Vatican Council

By Richard J. Gelm | Go to book overview

political parties and interest groups. Once mobilized, however, the Church was presented a new task of exerting influence on the vote choices of its followers. The authoritarianism that served it well during the Middle Ages was no longer viable by the twentieth century. If the Church could not compel its followers by sanction, it would have to rely on the persuasiveness of its message. Affecting the hearts and minds of its people through moral persuasion required new approaches, many of which continue to be challenged by those who long for a return to a more "disciplined" Church.

While the Church no longer possesses the more direct influence on the state that it had during the Middle Ages, it has assumed a role as social critic and teacher of social morality. In seeking to teach social morality, American bishops hope to maintain a moral influence on political attitudes and beliefs. In this way religious leaders seek a part in the shaping of political culture. It is in this area that the religious influence on politics may have its greatest impact. But if the task of the modern church is to move the hearts and minds of its people, new strategies for bridging religion and political culture may be necessary. It is to an examination of this connection that we now turn.


NOTES
1.
Guy Michelat and Michel Simon, "Religion, Class, and Politics," Comparative Politics 10, no. 1 ( October 1977), p. 159.
2.
Daniel Bell, "The Return of the Sacred? The Argument on the Future of Religion," British Journal of Sociology 28, no. 4 ( December 1977), pp. 421- 422.
3.
Thomas Jefferson made this reference in a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association on January 1, 1802. In the Supreme Court's decision in Everson, Justice Black referred to Jefferson's comment in interpreting the establishment clause of the First Amendment. See Everson v. Board of Education of the Township of Ewing, 330 U.S. 1 ( 1947).
4.
James A. Bill and Robert L. Hardgrave Jr., Comparative Politics: The Quest for Theory ( Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1981), p. 67.
5.
See Alexander J. Groth, Progress and Chaos: Modernization and Rediscovery of Religion and Authority ( Malabar, Fla.: Robert E. Kreiger, 1984), and Samuel P. Huntington, Political Order in Changing Societies ( New Haven: Yale University Press, 1968).
6.
Lucian W. Pye, Aspects of political Development ( Boston: Little, Brown, 1966), p. 38 and chap. 2.
7.
Manfred Halpern, "Toward Further Modernization of the Study of New Nations," World Politics 17 ( October 1964), p. 173.
8.
Gabriel Almond and G. Bingham Powell Jr., Comparative Politics: A Developmental Approach ( Boston: Little, Brown, 1966), p. 105.

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Politics and Religious Authority: American Catholics since the Second Vatican Council
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions to the Study of Religion ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Tables ix
  • Preface xi
  • Chapter 1 Introduction 1
  • Notes 8
  • Chapter 2 Religion, Political Development, and Change 11
  • Conclusion 27
  • Notes 28
  • Chapter 3 Religious Contributions to Political Culture 33
  • Conclusion 43
  • Notes 44
  • Chapter 4 Catholic Social Teaching and the Second Vatican Council 47
  • Conclusion 60
  • Notes 60
  • Chapter 5 Politics and the U.S. Catholic Bishops 65
  • Conclusion 90
  • Notes 92
  • Chapter 6 Religion, Politics, and the Catholic Laity 99
  • Conclusion 116
  • Notes 116
  • Chapter 7 Conclusion: The Enduring Connection Between Religion and Politics 123
  • Notes 129
  • References 131
  • Index 145
  • About the Author 153
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