Moral Ambition: Mobilization and Social Outreach in Evangelical Megachurches

By Omri Elisha | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4
The Names of Action

The socially engaged evangelicals described in this book are not social or political activists in any conventional sense. They do not adhere to a particular social movement or activist identity; they do not organize rallies, protests, or other forms of direct action meant to sway public opinion or impress and intimidate public figures. At least these were not primary concerns of those I knew, who may participate in mass actions organized under the auspices of the Christian Right but invest their personal commitments otherwise. The efforts I observed were mainly concerned with promoting organized benevolence on a relatively modest scale, figuring out what it takes to raise conservative evangelical churches to a higher level of social engagement, and creating new opportunities for community evangelism. Nevertheless, I believe that these efforts are demonstrative of an activist orientation. They are explicit in their ideological content, call attention to altruistic deeds conceived as vehicles of social and spiritual renewal, and respond, however implicitly, to regnant political concerns and civic trends. Conservative yet socially engaged evangelicals may not “take it to the streets” or “speak truth to power” in the same ways that other activists do, but if we view them on their own terms we must recognize that their actions are performed with similar intentions and, as they see it, potentially more radical consequences.

Writing about new forms of cultural activism among indigenous peoples, Faye Ginsburg argues that “focusing on people who engage

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Moral Ambition: Mobilization and Social Outreach in Evangelical Megachurches
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Chapter 1 - Introduction 1
  • Chapter 2 - Awaking Sleeping Giants 36
  • Chapter 3 - A Region in Spite of Itself 61
  • Chapter 4 - The Names of Action 85
  • Chapter 5 - The Spiritual Injuries of Class 121
  • Chapter 6 - Compassion Accounts 153
  • Chapter 7 - Taking the (Inner) City for God 183
  • Epilogue 214
  • Notes 223
  • References 241
  • Index 253
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