People of Faith: Religious Conviction in American Journalism and Higher Education

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Overview

Over the past two decades, a host of critics have accused American journalism and higher education of being indifferent, even openly hostile, to religious concerns. These professions, more than any others, are said to drive a wedge between facts and values, faith and knowledge, the sacred and the secular. However, a growing number of observers are calling attention to a religious resurgence—journalists are covering religion more frequently and religious scholars in academia are increasingly visible.John Schmalzbauer provides a compelling investigation of the role of Catholic and evangelical Protestant beliefs in the newsroom and the classroom. His interviews with forty prominent journalists and academics reveal how some people of faith seek to preserve their religious identities in purportedly secular professions. What impact, he asks, does their Christianity have on their jobs? What is the place of personal religious conviction in professional life? Individuals featured include the journalists Fred Barnes, Cokie Roberts, Peter Steinfels, Cal Thomas, and Kenneth Woodward, and the scholars John DiIulio, Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, Andrew Greeley, George Marsden, and Mark Noll.Some of the journalists and academics with whom Schmalzbauer spoke qualified displays of personal religious belief with reminders of their own professional credibility, drawing a line between advocacy and objectivity. Schmalzbauer highlights the persistent tensions between the worlds of public endeavor and private belief, yet he maintains there is room for faith even in professional environments that have tended to prize empiricism and detachment over expressions of personal conviction.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"It is certainly true that the professions, including the media and academe, are dominated by people hostile to expressions of religious belief. Where did this hostility come from? And is it inevitable? John Schmalzbauer attempts to answer these questions, among others, in People of Faith, a valuable sociological survey. Mr. Schmalzbauer chronicles the way that religion has been an object of derision for journalists since H. L. Mencken's coverage of the Scopes trial in the 1920s and for academics since the mid-20th-century introduction of the "fact-value" distinction in scientific research. After reviewing the statistical and anecdotal evidence. . . Mr. Schmalzbauer argues that the religious perspective is making something of a comeback."—Naomi Schaefer, Wall Street Journal, February 28, 2003

"Schmalzbauer found a strong group of knowledge class professionals who have successfully avoided secularizing or privatizing their own faith. . . .Schmalzbauer concludes that there has been a welcome revival of religion in the academy, even in the social sciences, and that journalism is more accommodating to persons of faith than it was in the twentieth century."—William (Beau) Weston, The Cresset, 2003

"Sociologist John Schmalzbauer investigates the role played by religious faith in two of the most secular and objectivity-obsessed professions: journalism and social sciences. . . .he concludes that despite a constant tension, both groups have made significant contributions to American society and have introduced a religious perspective into their professions without sacrificing their credibility."—Virginia Quarterly Review, 79:3

"Using religion as an example, Schmalzbauer (Sociology, College of Holy Cross) raises questions fundamental to personal behavior in a complex, secularized society: By what commitments should people live and, if necessary, die? Should those commitments arise out of informed, reasoned, and personal choices or be relatively unthinking responses to others' expectations' Focusing on a sample of evangelical Protestants and Catholics who are academics or professional reporters, the author asks how such persons can function in environments demanding objectivity, ethical neutrality, and toleration for a secular representation of reality. . . Here is sociology at its most provocative best. Summing Up: High recommended. All levels and collections."—L. Braude, SUNY College at Fredonia, Choice Magazine, Dec. 2003.

"This work reports the findings of Schmalzbauer's interviews with forty journalists and social science academics. The interviewees represented the Roman Catholic and evangelical Protestant faith traditions. They are also very public figures whose voices have incorporated their various faith traditions into their work places and public space. This research emerges from the author's interest in the role of religion in the public space as well as his interest in examining his on-going struggle 'to make sense of the role of Christian faith and the academic profession?' (p. xv). . . . This work adds to the field of sociology of religion as well as the broad field of religious studies. This piece is also helpful to those involved in the field of religious education which attempts to assist with lifelong interpretive processes. Historians of higher education will find interesting how educational institutions assist in developing inquiring minds."—Nelson T. Strobert, Gettysburg Lutheran Seminary, History of Education Quarterly, Vol. 44, No. 3, Fall 2004

"At the core of this work, Schmalzbauer has shown that religious belief in the professions does not take something away, but has the ability to add a richer description and understanding of human reality. This is an insight that both religious scholars and nonreligious scholars alike can appreciate."—Elaine Howard Ecklund, Cornell University, Sociology of Religion, 65:1, Spring 2004

"John Schmalzbauer has brought to light important and generally neglected information. People of Faith has much to offer those fascinated with the ways in which academics and journalists write and think."—Alan Wolfe, Boston College

"Journalism and the social sciences are among the most resolutely secular of the modern American professions, but John Schmalzbauer shows that in each of these fields, Catholics and evangelicals have produced excellent work that is profoundly influenced by their religious commitments. This book challenges the standard assumption, held by secular and religious critics alike, that the only options for people of faith working in these professions are accommodation or resistance. Schmalzbauer shows that these Christian believers have brought their convictions into their professions in ways that can enrich American intellectual life and public affairs discourse."—Joel Carpenter, Calvin College

"People of Faith is an innovative account of the incorporation of religious sensibilities in professional life. John Schmalzbauer smartly weaves together multiple secondary sources, engaging interviews, and profiles of leading Catholic and evangelical journalists and social scientists."—Scott Appleby, Director, Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism, University of Notre Dame

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801438868
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 12/28/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.22 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 0.92 (d)

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