Christian conservatism has changed drastically in the last 25 years. From the working-class faith of small, autonomous rural churches or storefront sanctuaries to the megachurches of the suburbs and the halls of powerCongress and the White Housethe faith is no longer at the margins of American religion. Rather, it is a dominant force in the American public square. For the first time in its history, Christian conservatism boasts an expanded network of born-again clubs and services that closely follow secular trends in the American consumer market. A veritable Christian suburbia has been created that parallels its secular counterpart. This Christian conservative co-optation of suburbia is unprecedented in the history of the movement. Their embrace of modernity and middle-class lifestyle is a stark contrast to Christian conservatives who avoided engaging with modernity earlier in the 20th century. How did conservative Christianity change, and how is this change affecting its relationship with the larger society?
Influenced by middle-class values, power, and education, Christian conservatism has opted to engage with modern political life, allying itself with the Republican Party, and developing an extensive political agenda of its own. This book documents the transformation of Christian conservatism into a middle-class faith and argues that the changes experienced by Christian conservatism are part of a larger religious realignment in American Christianity. Conservative Christianity, once home primarily to working- class religious communities, greatly benefited from the migration of conservative Christians from other denominations as a result of the 1960s Cultural Revolution. The final goal of the movement is, of course, the creation of a biblically-based society, one whose laws are defined by a conservative reading of the Scriptures and whose public mores are more akin to its newly gained middle class status. The push to restore a Christian America raises questions about the conservative Christian faith. Cavalcanti answers those questions as he traces the growth of the movement and its goals.
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About the Author
H. B. Cavalcanti is Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at James Madison University. He has published many book chapters and articles in publications such as Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Sociology of Religion, Journal of Church and State, and others.
Table of Contents
Onward Christian Soldiers: The New Christian Conservatism 1
Will the Circle Be Unbroken? Co-opting Modernity 19
God Shed His Grace on Thee: Colonizing the Public Square 45
Blest Be the Tie that Binds: Defending Religious Liberty 71
His Truth Is Marching On: Public Morals and Public Faith 97
Shall We Gather at the River? Religious Zeal and American Pluralism 117