Posts Tagged ‘American politics’

November 18th, 2014

Political backlash and the rise of “nones”

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In an article that appears in the open access online journal Sociological Science, sociologists Michael Hout and Claude Fisher take a look at the relationship between religious disaffiliation and backlash against right-wing religio-political movements.

June 12th, 2014

With Cantor loss, only Christian Republicans in Congress

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Lecture by Congressman Eric Cantor | Image via Flickr user Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan's PhotostreamThe unexpected primary defeat of Virginia Representative and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor last night is already having seismic effects on the Republican leadership and Congress as a whole.

January 24th, 2014

Engaging the “spiritual but not religious” vote

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In an essay published at the Atlantic online, TIF editor-at-large Steven Barrie-Anthony urges politicians and pundits to pay closer attention to “spiritual but not religious” voters as a potentially influential bloc.

September 27th, 2013

Treating religions (un)equally

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Earlier this summer, The Immanent Frame published an off the cuff exchange about the State Department’s new initiative to engage religious communities in US diplomacy. Conversation and critiques are still going strong; Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, an original contributor to “Engaging religion at the Department of State,” has penned a commentary for Al Jazeera America in which she critiques US faith-based engagement abroad as a violation of the separation of church and state.

September 5th, 2013

Catholic bishops on immigration reform

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The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has undertaken a coordinated effort to preach the message of immigration reform in diocese across America as reported by The New York Times.

August 28th, 2013

The civil religion of “I have a dream”

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This Wednesday will mark the fiftieth anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s landmark “I have a dream” speech and the 1963 March on Washington. In commemoration of the great moment in American civil rights history, scholars and commentators have dedicated much of this past month to recognizing Dr. King’s legacy. At Religion News Service, Yonat Shimron and Adelle M. Banks offer insights from academics of religion and discuss the speech’s continued relevance.

July 4th, 2013

Religious freedom and the Constitution

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Dennis J. Goldford was recently interviewed by Religion Dispatches Magazine about his new book The Constitution of Religious Freedom: God, Politics, and the First Amendment, which explores the notion of “separation of church and state” and the religious identity of America.

June 26th, 2013

SCOTUS roundup: Rulings on DOMA and Prop 8

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The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 on Wednesday that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a 1996 law that denied federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples, is unconstitutional. The Court also declined to rule on Proposition 8, a California case that banned same-sex marriage, on technical grounds, deciding that the case was improperly before the Court. The following roundup presents a range of reactions from both sides, with a focus on the religious aspects that have long influenced this debate.

June 25th, 2013

President Carter calls upon the Catholic Church to ordain women as priests

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Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter calls upon the Catholic Church to ordain women as priests as part of an interview discussing religion, faith, and women’s rights with Time Magazine reporter Elizabeth Dias in order to promote The Carter Center’s upcoming Mobilizing Faith for Women conference

February 7th, 2013

The alienation of religion from the left

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Noting that “nearly all of the white Americans who drifted away from organized religion in the last few decades were liberals,” Claude Fischer worries worries that this is problematic for both the left and the right.

January 28th, 2013

Where are the “new evangelicals” going?

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Writing in Religious Dispatches, Sarah Posner tackles TIF’s recent exchange on “The new evangelicals,” specifically the lead essay by Marcia Pally.

January 25th, 2013

What has been will be again

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Marcia Pally’s incisive essay on “the new evangelicals” highlights a relatively small but growing population of white evangelicals who appear to be embracing broader, less conservative visions of the common good, and public policy views (at least partially) more in line with Democratic politics than their recent forebears.  While her descriptions presumably are not limited to those who necessarily call themselves “new evangelicals,” she does invoke the work and ideas of public evangelicals who clearly self-identify as such. This points to an interesting observation worth considering here: to assume the mantle of newness is to make an ideological statement as well as a historical claim.

January 25th, 2013

Does fragmentation equal change?

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Marcia Pally’s post tracks the important fact that contemporary American evangelical social and political engagement is fragmenting. She rightly observes that such fragmenting is not historically novel, and is a self-consciously critical response to the power of the Religious Right.

To read of “robust polyphony” among evangelicals was especially welcome to me, as I addressed this phenomenon in a recent ethnography, Emerging Evangelicals (NYU Press, 2011). As a cultural anthropologist, I explored the identities fashioned, practices performed, histories claimed, institutions created, and critiques waged among evangelicals influenced by the Emerging Church movement. Pally’s astute analysis returned me to a question I stopped short of fully developing: does fragmentation equal change?

January 24th, 2013

Remembering a different evangelicalism

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Celebrating the ideological diversity of contemporary evangelicalism, Marcia Pally heralds the advent of a religious non-right. Shattering stereotypes of a monolithic conservatism, she performs a valuable service.

As Pally notes in her essay, this isn’t the first time evangelicals have hoisted the banner of social reform. Recalling the activism of nineteenth-century American Protestants, she sees the “new evangelicals” as their contemporary successors.

You don’t have to go back to the nineteenth century to find evangelical progressives. Like Jim Wallis and Ron Sider, many got their start in the 1970s, building institutions that are still around today (Sojourners, Evangelicals for Social Action, Bread for the World).

January 22nd, 2013

A complex story

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The American religious landscape is being altered by what Mark Noll calls “a more pluralistic evangelicalism than has ever existed before.”

In the movement Marcia Pally describes, evangelicalism is no longer synonymous with white evangelicals. Conservative black churches have long held a pro-life, pro-marriage ethic in balance with energetic social activism. Immigrant churches, the fastest-growing segment of Christianity, tend to be conservative theologically while progressive on issues like poverty and immigration. The increasingly influential Hispanic community naturally aligns with this movement. As Samuel Rodriguez puts it: “Where Billy Graham meets Dr. King, that’s where you will see the Hispanic Christian community emerge.”

January 18th, 2013

Are “new evangelicals” a new phenomenon or a reversion to type?

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In her piece, Marcia Pally continues her most commendable attempt to describe the diversity of evangelical political opinion in the United States, and to provide a more nuanced account even of the evangelical right. As she suggests, the core of all evangelical political outlooks tends to be a belief in the importance of individual virtuous action and collaboration. This by no means betokens an entirely uncritical embrace of neoliberalism; the alliance with the latter has probably been forged by a horror at the (historically novel) libertarian cultural mores of the contemporary left. In actual practice much evangelical social action is more concerned with the common good than is the general run of more recent GOP attitudes, and it is, I think, partially a reflection on the political implications of this that has, as Pally notes, led many younger evangelicals to move leftwards.

January 17th, 2013

Southern Baptists’ hands-on approach to changing the world

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On the evening of Good Friday 2013, several thousand young evangelicals will file into The Church at Brook Hill in Birmingham, Alabama, one of the largest Southern Baptist congregations in that Red State. They will open up their Bibles and then for the next six hours listen as a slender, boyish-looking pastor walks them through long passages of Scripture verse by verse and tells them to forsake material goods and self-indulgence and devote their lives to serving Jesus. All around the country other gatherings of young people will tune in by simulcast. David Platt, author of Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream, is not a typical celebrity pastor. He does no book tours, doesn’t drive a Bentley, seems to have no opinions about politics, and hardly ever has time for even a brief interview with reporters. And he’s not the stereotypical Southern Baptist power broker.

January 17th, 2013

The riddle of the middle

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Baptist minister and sociologist Tony Campolo was arguably the first to send shock waves through the ranks of the religious right two decades ago when he responded to a question about his political leaning—Democrat or Republican? His reply: “It depends on the issue.”

Fundamentalists scorned him, calling him an apostate, but his assertion gave a new generation of evangelicals permission to scrutinize political platforms and move to the middle. The middle seemed to make more sense to younger followers of Jesus who were hearing and heeding calls to humanitarian causes at home and abroad.

January 16th, 2013

A return to the original agenda of Christ

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I am one of those evangelicals who, in Professor Marcia Pally’s words, have “left the right.” As a former President-elect of the Christian Coalition of America, I resigned that position and all other positions that would box me into ideologies that were becoming insidiously narrow and negative. As a 64-year-old pastor, I may not yet be representative of my generation or profession in my political openness, but I am one of a growing number of white evangelicals who are making biblically-based decisions on an issue-by-issue basis, in a wider circle of conversations than ever. We are put off by the “hardening of the categories” that is stifling not only intellectually, but also spiritually.

January 16th, 2013

Rethinking that word “evangelical”

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Professor Marcia Pally aptly describes the evangelical polyphony of our time. Despite the dreadful habit of newspapers of using the term “evangelical” to mean “white social conservative bloc of the GOP,” contemporary evangelical political views are much more diverse than that.

As Pally notes here and in her book, The New Evangelicals, it is not accurate to say that the diversity of evangelical politics and public engagement is some kind of new trend. What is actually the historical aberration is the way a distinguished global movement within Protestant Christianity that has always had diverse politics got swept into the Republican Southern Strategy of the Nixon years and beyond. It is a terrible historical accident that the movement that gave us the abolitionist William Wilberforce and the firebrands of the early Social Gospel movement became identified, after 1972, with reactionary white right-wing politics in the American South.

January 15th, 2013

Evangelicals who have left the right

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Post-election reporting that 79 percent of white evangelicals voted for Mitt Romney got little attention in the news because most journalists thought it wasn’t news. Evangelical support for the GOP has been consistent; even Romney’s Mormonism didn’t put them off. So election analysis approached white evangelicals as it usually has: as religio-political lemmings, all voting Republican for all the same reasons.

Yet where there was once the appearance of a monovocal evangelicalism there is now robust polyphony—what theologian Scot McKnight calls “the biggest change in the evangelical movement at the end of the twentieth century, a new kind of Christian social conscience.” This deserves our attention because most politics does not happen at elections but in between, when policy is negotiated and implemented. Current shifts in evangelical activism have re-routed the flow of evangelical money, time, and energy, and are changing the demands on the US political system. This essay investigating the shift is based on seven years of field research in evangelical books, articles, newsletters, sermons, and blogs, and on interviews with evangelicals, ages 19 to 74, across geographic and demographic groups—from students in Illinois to retired firemen from Mississippi, from former bikers to professors and political consultants.

November 13th, 2012

Religion and the election

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Several months ago, it seemed religion might be a notable factor in the 2012 presidential election.

November 5th, 2012

After Sandy: Presidential rhetoric and visions of solidarity

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On Monday afternoon as Hurricane Sandy threatened landfall, President Obama warned reporters gathered at the White House that the storm would be a difficult one, and urged a collective, unifying response. In the wake of the storm, Obama has often shifted away from the polarized rhetoric of the campaign trail to a message reminiscent of the candidate circa 2008, employing hopeful metaphors of American unity and healed fracture.

Many scholars who initially saw in Obama the possibility of a reinvigorated prophetic civil religion have since been disappointed. Now, on the eve of the election and as the waters recede across New Jersey and New York City, we have a moment to reflect on the rhetoric and symbolism that Obama has employed during this disaster.

What, if anything, is new about the rhetoric and symbolism he is employing, and how should we understand the relationship between this rhetoric and his governing style? What does it suggest about the arc of American civil religion, about shifting and multiple visions of national solidarity, and about the election and the political climate to follow?

September 21st, 2012

American secularism

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Salon has published an excerpt from a new book, How to Be Secular, where the author, Jacques Berlinerblau, diagnoses problematic connotations that have come to be associated with secularism in the United States and considers competing accounts of the history of the concept.

September 14th, 2012

Death in the Middle East: What happens next?

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On the 11th anniversary of the September 11, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt and U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya were attacked amidst protests over a trailer for a purported film entitled Innocence of Muslims.

September 11th, 2012

11 years after 9/11

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In the days immediately following September 11, 2001, the Social Science Research Council invited a wide range of leading social scientists from around the world to write short essays for an online forum, After September 11.

July 30th, 2012

Voting for an atheist?

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In a recent article, Religion News Service discusses a Gallup poll survey, in which a majority of Americans said they would vote for a “well-qualified” atheist for President.

June 15th, 2012

President Obama’s waning religious support

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In 2008, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama was able to make crucial gains among religious moderates on his way to winning the presidential election.

May 30th, 2012

American attitudes toward religious minorities

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At last week’s 67th annual conference of the American Association for Public Opinion Research, Daniel Cox, director of the Public Religion Research Institute, presented a paper on American attitudes toward religious minorities in 2012.

May 16th, 2012

The bishops, the sisters, and religious freedom

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At its March 2012 meeting, the Administrative Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops approved “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty: A Statement on Religious Liberty,” a document drafted by the USCCB’s Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty.

May 11th, 2012

Everson’s Children

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Everson v. Board of Education is considered a landmark of First Amendment jurisprudence. That 1947 case marks the first time the Supreme Court held that the disestablishment provision of the First Amendment is binding on the states, and not just on the federal government. The “incorporation” of the principle of disestablishment thus completed the task begun seven years earlier in Cantwell v. Connecticut, when a unanimous Court held that free exercise applied to the states. In Cantwell, the Court overturned the convictions of three Jehovah’s Witnesses, who had been arrested for unlicensed soliciting and a breach of peace.

May 8th, 2012

West’s witness

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For New York Magazine, Lisa Miller profiles Cornel West, surveying the course of his academic career, personal life, and variety of public spats with figures like Larry Summers and Barack Obama.

May 4th, 2012

The Vatican and the “war on women religious”

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The recent Vatican report on the Leadership Council of Women Religious (LCWR), an umbrella organization representing roughly eighty percent of American sisters, has elicited a fierce reaction in the media from Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

May 1st, 2012

Evangelicals support Romney

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At The New Republic, Eg Kilgore explains why the Christian Right will overcome its apprehensions about Mitt Romney’s religion.

May 1st, 2012

New online journal: Religion & Politics

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Today marks the launch of Religion & Politics, an online journal from the John C. Danforth Center on Religion & Politics at Washington University in St. Louis.

April 27th, 2012

Romney and the two holy lands

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Mitt Romney can’t find enough good things to say about Israel. And like his now defunct challengers, Gingrich and Santorum, he continually accuses President Obama of failing to support the Jewish state.

April 25th, 2012

Problems with new Gallup poll?

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Gallup’s latest poll, released today, breaks down presidential candidate support by voter religiosity and religious identity.

April 24th, 2012

War on nuns

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At The Nation, Norman Birnbaum, professor emeritus at Georgetown University Law Center, rebukes the Catholic Church for its historical “unyielding insistence on the rule of men”; and more specifically, for its decision to reorganize the Leadership Council of Women Religious, an umbrella organization that represents eighty percent of American nuns.

April 17th, 2012

Modern Mormons and socialism

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At Salon, Troy Williams retells an old Mormon tale and chastises likely Republican candidate for president, Mitt Romney, for abandoning his religion’s socialist roots

April 16th, 2012

Muslims and the Republican party

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Nona Willis Aronowitz, at GOOD, discusses the impact that Republican, anti-Islamic rhetoric has had on Muslim voters.

April 12th, 2012

Looking at religiosity and the Bible Belt

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Richard Florida follows up on what exactly the recent Gallup poll on differences in religiosity by state tells us about America. He compares the poll’s findings with his own socioeconomic data, which confirms correlations identified by the longstanding World Values Survey:

March 27th, 2012

Religious freedom between truth and tactic

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In the last issue of First Things, a self-described coalition of “Catholics and Evangelicals together” defends religious freedom. The coalition includes a number of notable Americans, like Charles Colson and George Weigel, with endorsements from the archbishops of Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia, along with many others. According to the statement, the situation is unexpectedly urgent. After the fall of the Soviet Union, “throughout the world, a new era of religious freedom seemed at hand.” But, now it is blatantly clear that the scourge of intolerance—especially secularist intolerance—persists.

March 7th, 2012

Decoding religious freedom claims

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Molly Worthen, in the New York Times‘ Campaign Stops blog, considers the undertones of recent conservative claims regarding the Obama administration’s purported disregard of religious freedom.

March 2nd, 2012

The naked public sphere?

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In light of Rick Santorum’s recent comments on religion and the public sphere, we asked a small handful of scholars about the status of such claims regarding religion in American political life. Just how “naked” is the American public square? What is the appropriate place of religion in the public sphere?

Read responses by Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im, Michele Dillon, John L. Esposito, John H. Evans, Philip S. Gorski, R. Marie Griffith, Cristina Lafont, Nancy Levene, Nadia Marzouki, Ebrahim Moosa, Justin Neuman, and John Schmalzbauer.

February 24th, 2012

Responses to Qur’an burning in Afghanistan

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Reports that NATO personnel had burned copies of the Qur’an first appeared in the New York Times on Tuesday, February 21.

February 21st, 2012

Do candidates need the Catholic vote anymore?

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Ed Kilgore argues that American Catholics no longer represent a voting constituency that is significantly different from non-Catholics.

February 3rd, 2012

Secularism and The Third Jihad

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At The Revealer, Jeremy F. Walton offers insight on the recent controversy surrounding the NYPD’s use of The Third Jihad in police training activities.

January 31st, 2012

Religious roots of the secular

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At the Harvard University Press Blog, historian Brad S. Gregory discusses his latest book, The Unintended Reformation: How a Religious Revolution Secularized Society: Brad S. Gregory’s new book, The Unintended Reformation: How a Religious Revolution Secularized Society, is very much in the tradition of and in conversation with Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age. Both are […]

January 13th, 2012

An uncomfortable spotlight

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The Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life has released a comprehensive survey of more than 1,000 Mormons living across the country.

November 28th, 2011

Mormon ad campaign and the 2012 election

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In the hit Broadway musical The Book of Mormon, Elder Price sings about how he believes that “ancient Jews built boats and sailed to America” and “in 1978 God changed His mind about black people.”