THIS BOOK attempts to be an objective study of the role of religious groups as a political force. It would be pretentious for an author to claim that he had succeeded in excluding all bias from his work, but a diligent effort has been made to do so here. The reader is asked to approach the following pages in the spirit of the study, to set aside bias and view the chronicle without precommitment.
The risks entailed by a scholar writing in this area have been aptly described by a former professor of this author, V. O. Key, Jr., one of the most knowledgeable observers of American politics. To discuss even in broad terms the attempts of churches to influence government action, Dr. Key states, "is a most hazardous enterprise." He adds:
The most innocent comment about religious groups can arouse the sharpest reaction. Critical comment easily becomes bigotry or even an irreverent challenge to the work of the Lord. All of which suggests that the currents of religion run so deeply in our politics that people prefer not to talk about the topic lest discussion set off debates over questions irreconcilable because they present, at least potentially, conflicts of divergent absolutes. *
However, there has been a growing recognition by ministers, priests, and rabbis, as well as by laymen of the various faiths, that there is a need for candid, dispassionate consideration of the social and political relations of religious groups.____________________