Religion and Politics in America: Faith, Culture, and Strategic Choices

Religion and Politics in America: Faith, Culture, and Strategic Choices

Religion and Politics in America: Faith, Culture, and Strategic Choices

Religion and Politics in America: Faith, Culture, and Strategic Choices

Synopsis

"Fowler and Hertzke provide a lively and straightforward treatment of the politics of religion in American public life today. They provide the historical and sociological context, as well as the range of strategic choices open to different religious actors, to enable the reader to reach informed and balanced judgments about the role of religion in politics." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

Religion and politics and their dynamic interactions are a visible reality everywhere in the United States -- and they are the focus of this book. There is the vigorous presence of the religious Christian conservative movement, which has entered politics to address abortion, pornography, sex education, prayer in public schools, and family breakdown. We see the growing assertiveness of the Catholic Church, which allies itself with evangelicals on abortion and educational choice and with liberal Protestants on defense and social welfare issues. We observe the increasing politicization of the black church and the presidential campaigns of one of its most prominent ministers, the Reverend Jesse Jackson. We have seen the vigorous lobbying by liberal religionists, Protestant and Catholic, who argued against U.S. military initiatives in Central America and the Persian Gulf but supported intervention in Haiti. We consider the prominent role of Jewish organizations in American politics, especially regarding support for Israel, which sharply contrasts with the as yet fitful efforts of the growing Muslim population to gain political influence. We watch the rising flood of cases in the courts, especially cases brought by religious and antireligious minorities. Everywhere one looks religion and politics are engaged in American public life.

The aim of this book is to understand the politics of religion in the United States and, as the book's subtitle suggests, to appreciate the strategic choices that politicians and religious participants make in participating in that politics. We try to make sense of how religion and politics come together in the voting booth, Congress and the state legislatures, the presidency, the courts, the interest group system, and the larger culture of the United States. The subject is large and complex, with fascinating and often contradictory currents. It is an important topic, since we believe one can understand American politics and society today only with an appreciation of the dynamics of religious politics.

We have attempted to make this book accessible. Our goal is a readable and informative textbook, not a scholarly tome. But one of our challenges in doing so relates to the very nature of American religion -- its real and ever . . .

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