Mainline Christians and U.S. Public Policy: A Reference Handbook

Mainline Christians and U.S. Public Policy: A Reference Handbook

Mainline Christians and U.S. Public Policy: A Reference Handbook

Mainline Christians and U.S. Public Policy: A Reference Handbook


This insightful reference work explores the relationship between mainline Christian denominations and U.S. politics and public policy, from colonial times to the present.

• Includes numerous quotations and primary source documents issued by mainline denomination leaders and activists on a wide range of issues

• Provides a chronology of the events that shaped the present beliefs, values, and concerns of nine mainline Christian denominations from colonial times to the present


This reference work offers an overview of eight major mainline Protestant denominations along with the Catholic Church in the United States and the value positions they promote in the public arena, emphasizing the differences as well as similarities among them. the book presents these churches’ historical development from colonial times to the present; the dominant values held by the leadership, clergy, and lay members; their social missions; and their efforts to influence public opinion and public policy on several social, economic, and political issues. An examination of the conversations, disagreements, and interest conflicts within each denomination provides insight into how value positions and the relationship between the denominations and the larger world have developed.

The first chapter offers a brief historical sketch of each denomination as well as a description of its organizational structure. of particular interest is how members of the church may voice their views. in these religious groups, members’ views often are strongly held and frequently relate to deep matters of faith in God, assumptions about the purpose of human life, and intensely held moral convictions about acceptable behavior. Therefore, not surprisingly, religious denominations historically have experienced divisions as well as strenuous efforts to bring about collaboration and union among groups that share common beliefs and concerns. As with any organization, Robert Michels’s “iron law of oligarchy”—any organization, no matter how democratically structured, tends to be governed by a relatively small elite; the law is exemplified by the quote, “Who says organization says oligarchy”—confronts those in the mainline denominations who wish to express their concerns to the overall church. However . . .

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