The Bully Pulpit: The Politics of Protestant Clergy

Overview

When Democrats lost control of Congress in 1994, the Christian Right claimed a major role in their defeat and House Speaker Newt Gingrich credited the "organized Christian vote" with the Republican victory. Ministers from many political persuasions have long been active in American politics, but in the 1980s and 1990s it has seemed impossible to find any political controversy that did not involve the clergy-often on both sides of the issue.

The Bully Pulpit is the first major ...

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Overview

When Democrats lost control of Congress in 1994, the Christian Right claimed a major role in their defeat and House Speaker Newt Gingrich credited the "organized Christian vote" with the Republican victory. Ministers from many political persuasions have long been active in American politics, but in the 1980s and 1990s it has seemed impossible to find any political controversy that did not involve the clergy-often on both sides of the issue.

The Bully Pulpit is the first major study of clergy politics in more than twenty years. Drawing on two decades of survey research involving thousands of ministers nationwide, five social scientists explore the political lives of clergy in eight evangelical and mainline Protestant denominations, including the Assemblies of God, Southern Baptist Convention, United Methodist Church, and Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. They find that the competing theological perspectives of orthodoxy and modernism are increasingly tied to ideological and partisan divisions in American politics.

In addressing the nature and extent of clerical participation, The Bully Pulpit asks the following questions: How do different groups of ministers see their role in politics? What activities do they approve or disapprove? How active are Protestant clergy in politics? What factors account for the level and kinds of participation? Do the patterns of clerical activism discovered in the 1960s and 1970s persist today?

The authors discover that theological traditionalists emphasize moral reform and tend to specialize in making pronouncements in religious settings, while modernists stress social justice issues and engage in a wider range of political activities, inside and outside the church. They find that "New Breed" liberals have continued the mainline Protestant activism of the 1960s and '70s, but that Christian Right activists have become just as numerous, drawn from the ranks of previously inactive evangelical clergy. Their book offers a balanced assessment of political activity among both clergy at the end of the century and helps us understand the current relationship between church and state in America.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Drawing from extensive surveys of clergy in eight denominations, this major, up-to-date statistical study brings together detailed information on the participation of Protestant clergy in politics, especially over the last 30 years. The information is fascinating because the viewpoints of the clergy, who often seem hard to categorize, can differ dramatically. Despite these differences, the authors Religion and the Culture Wars, Rowman & Littlefield, 1996 have produced a work of particular interest to social scientists and politicians that unravels many of the mysteries of clergy participation in civic and social justice issues. In the 1960s, modern theologians trumpeted issues such as racial injustice and poverty. Now, increasingly, more orthodox clergy have become involved in such causes as abortion, pornography, and gay rights. The book helps in understanding church-state relationships. Recommended for larger public libraries and academic libraries.George Westerlund, Providence P.L., R.I.
Booknews
Drawing on two decades of survey research involving thousands of ministers nationwide, five social scientists explore the political lives of clergy in eight evangelical and mainline Protestant denominations, including the Assemblies of God, Southern Baptist Convention, United Methodist Church, and Presbyterian Church. They find that the competing theological perspectives of orthodoxy and modernism are increasingly tied to ideological and partisan divisions in American politics, and help illuminate the current relationship between church and state in America. Paper edition (unseen), $19.95. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

Table of Contents

Preface

Introduction

1. The Politics of Protestant Clergy: An Overview

2. Eight Protestant Denominations: Theology, Organization, and Politics

3. Theology and the "Two-Party System" in American Protestantism

4. The Public Church: The Social Theologies of Protestant Clergy

5. The Issue Agendas of Protestant Clergy

6. Shepherds Divided: Issues and Ideology among Protestant Clergy

7. The Real "Two-Party System": Partisanship and Voting Behavior among Protestant Clergy

8. Public Witness: Clergy Attitudes toward Political Activism

9. Petitioning Caesar: Political Involvement by Ministers

10. Conclusion: The Present and Future of Clerical Politics

Appendixes

References

Index

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