Religion and Democracy in the United States: Danger or Opportunity?

Religion and Democracy in the United States: Danger or Opportunity?


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Religion and Democracy in the United States: Danger or Opportunity? by Alan Wolfe

The United States remains a deeply religious country and religion plays an inextricably critical role in American politics. Controversy over issues such as abortion is fueled by opposition in the Catholic Church and among conservative Protestants, candidates for the presidency are questioned about their religious beliefs, and the separation of church and state remains hotly contested. While the examination of religion's influence in politics has long been neglected, in the last decade the subject has finally garnered the attention it deserves. In Religion and Democracy in the United States, prominent scholars consider the ways Americans understand the relationship between their religious beliefs and the political arena.

This collection, a work of the Task Force on Religion and American Democracy of the American Political Science Association, thoughtfully explores the effects of religion on democracy and contemporary partisan politics. Topics include how religious diversity affects American democracy, how religion is implicated in America's partisan battles, and how religion affects ideas about race, ethnicity, and gender. Surveying what we currently know about religion and American politics, the essays introduce and delve into the range of current issues for both specialists and nonspecialists.

In addition to the editors, the contributors are Allison Calhoun-Brown, Rosa DeLauro, Bette Novit Evans, James Gibson, John Green, Frederick Harris, Amaney Jamal, Geoffrey Layman, David Leal, David Leege, Nancy Rosenblum, Kenneth Wald, and Clyde Wilcox.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691147284
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 09/19/2010
Pages: 456
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Alan Wolfe is professor of political science at Boston College. Ira Katznelson is the Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History at Columbia University.

Table of Contents

Contributors vii

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction by Rosa DeLauro 1

Part I: Religious Pluralism and American Democracy

Chapter 1: Political Science, Democracy, and Religion by Alan Wolfe 19

Chapter 2: Religious Diversity and American Democracy: A View from the Polls by John C. Green 46

Chapter 3: Muslim Americans: Enriching or Depleting American Democracy? by Amaney Jamal 89

Chapter 4: The Constitutions of Religious Pluralism in the United States by Bette Novit Evans 114

Part II: Religion and Democratic Values

Chapter 5: The Political Consequences of Religiosity: Does Religion Always Cause Political Intolerance? by James L. Gibson 147

Chapter 6: The Christian Right and Civic Virtue byClyde Wilcox 176

Chapter 7: Religion and Party Activists: A "Perfect Storm" of Polarization or a Recipe for Pragmatism? by Geoffrey C. Layman 212

Part III: Political Diversity and American Religion

Chapter 8: Entering the Promised Land? The Rise of Prosperity Gospel and Post-Civil Rights Black Politics by Fredrick C. Harris 255

Chapter 9: This Far by Faith? Religion, Gender, and Efficacy by Allison Calhoun-Brown 279

Chapter 10: Religion and the Political and Civic Lives of Latinos by David L. Leal 308

Part IV: Religion and Cultural Conflict

Chapter 11: Mobilizing Religious Differences in American Politics by Kenneth D. Wald and David C. Leege 355

Chapter 12: Faith in America: Political Theory's Logic of Autonomy and Logic of Congruence by Nancy L. Rosenblum 382

Conclusion: Reflections on Religion, Democracy, and the Politics of Good and Evil by Ira Katznelson 411

Index 431

What People are Saying About This

David Campbell

I am highly enthusiastic about this book's engaged, yet rigorous, political science, as well as its examination of the ways in which religion and politics are intertwined. This is a rich and substantive book.
David Campbell, University of Notre Dame


The book's target audience should be scholars and students of American politics who are either unaware or skeptical of religion's relevance to their enterprise. In this regard, the book is a remarkable contribution. It brings together a fine sampling of the work that's being done today by scholars of religion and American politics all in one volume.
Laura R. Olson, Clemson University

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