In Washington but Not of It: The Prophetic Politics of Religious Lobbyists

In Washington but Not of It: The Prophetic Politics of Religious Lobbyists

In Washington but Not of It: The Prophetic Politics of Religious Lobbyists

In Washington but Not of It: The Prophetic Politics of Religious Lobbyists

Synopsis

Ninety percent of Americans tell pollsters they believe in God; 68 percent say they are members of a religious organization. Most of these organizations are represented by lobbyists in Washington, D. C. Daniel J. B. Hofrenning examines the role of these religious lobbyists in American politics and argues that, no matter what their ideological stance, all share an anti-elitist strategy in their campaigns against Washington's policies. Hofrenning considers the scope of religious organizations, their tactics, their international politics, and their relationships among leaders and members. Through extensive interviews with religious lobbyists, he examines both conservative and liberal lobbyists and their distinct methods of wielding power. In comparison to their secular counterparts, who seek small, targeted changes, religious lobbyists attempt fundamental change on a wide range of public policies, based on a philosophy that something is profoundly wring with society and government priorities. This book not only provides insight into the activities and goals of religious lobbyists but also adds to our understanding of politics at the margins-a politics that is increasingly affecting the mainstream political agenda. Author note: Daniel J. B. Hofrenning is Assistant Professor of Political Science at St. Olaf College.

Excerpt

Organized religion has played a vital role in virtually every major political issue in the history of the United States. During the Revolution, ministers were in the throes of the struggle for independence. Most supported the Revolution and often boldly proclaimed their support of liberty from the pulpit. But, as in most struggles, organized religion was found on both sides. Some clergy, perhaps 25 percent, maintained an allegiance to the crown. After the Revolution, as they forged a new nation, virtually all the American founders thought religion was essential to the republic. Although they feared that religion could threaten liberty, the early leaders contended that religion provided an indispensable source of morality for the new nation's citizens. Democracy might not survive without it.

Religion has continued to play a significant part in many other issues of public significance. The movement to end slavery began in a Quaker meeting house. The Progressive and Populist movements drew much energy and support from organized religion. The prohibition of alcohol was in large part a religious movement. The protest against the Vietnam War included many prominent religious leaders at its forefront. In recent years, battles over abortion and Nicaraguan Contra aid would have changed considerably with-

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