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Mobilizing Religious Interests Religion can be a particularly potent resource for political mobilization and participation.

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mobilizing religious interests
Mobilizing Religious Interests
  • Religion can be a particularly potent resource for political mobilization and participation.
  • There are at least 120 non-profit organizations in the US that seek to influence polity formulations from a religious perspective. These types of religious groups act much like other secular interest groups attempting to influence the policy process. Ex. Christian Coalition of America:
religious interests and culture
Religious Interests and Culture
  • Culture (and religion as a potent communicator of culture) performs 3 primary functions: (1) it offers identity, (2) it prescribes norms, and (3) it defines boundaries for relationships.
  • Religion has so much political potential because it prescribes not only how we as individuals should live but also suggests the nature of the just society.
  • Karl Marx said religion was the “opiate of the masses” but religion can be the catalyst for tremendous societal change.
sources of motivation
Sources of Motivation
  • Group identity: religion construct collective identities, which can serve as powerful motivations for political participation because group identifications provide cognitive structures through which the world can be viewed.
  • Group status: according to Weber, economic status is partially a function of religion. Since the beginning of capitalism in Europe, Protestants have been more successful than Catholics economically because Protestants embraced religious values that transformed work from drudgery into a calling through which glorify God. While Catholics were viewing poverty as a sign of grace, Protestants understood material gain to be an indication of salvation and favour with God.
sources of motivation theology
Sources of Motivation: Theology
  • Religious groups become politically active because they desire congruence between their religious perspectives and public policies.
  • Certain common ways of thinking about religion may spill over into politics. A conservative approach to religion may support a conservative approach to politics.
  • An emphasis on sinfulness as the essential condition of humankind seems quite compatible with a skeptical orientation toward the prospect of improving conditions through political action. Similarly, if human pleasures are judged inferior to spiritual rewards, there is little urgency about improving material conditions. The liberal belief in “social” sin and the dignity of earthly existence, which contrast sharply with conservative religious assumptions, spurs efforts to eradicate structural barriers to justice and to improve the material conditions of life. Belief in a warm, caring God who is part of the world tend to enhance commitment to social welfare, whereas the image of a cold and authoritative deity lends support to government’s role in securing order and property. %
sources of motivation theology6
Sources of Motivation: Theology
  • Liberal faith: Judaism venerates learning and charity as major virtues and is relatively silent about the origin of sin and the prospect of life and death. That combination of values encourages optimism about the human condition and a sense of urgency about the application of reason to human problems. It seems almost to demand social and political involvement on behalf of liberal causes.
  • Lutheran thought treats humans as creatures of passion and sin who should not interfere with the divine plan for the world. Lutherans accept the world as it is because true happiness for man and total release from the bondage of sin are not possible until after death. This is also way Lutherans have a pronounced economic, social, racial, and political conservatism.
sources of motivation institutional interests
Sources of Motivation: Institutional Interests
  • Institutional interests provide the final source of motivation for the political engagement of religious faith. Denominations, faith-oriented communions and associations, individual churches and synagogues, interest groups, religious schools, religious broadcasters, religious social service providers, and charitable organizations all have a stake in particular public policies and may attempt to mobilize constituents in support of their causes. While ostensibly acting on behalf of the public good, all are simultaneously institutions with a more narrow economic and ideological interests as well.
establishing means the role of elites
Establishing Means: the role of Elites
  • The discontent must be framed and organized in a manner that supports political activity. It makes sense to think of grievances as latencies, tools that are available for exploitation by strong or aspiring leadership (clergy and leaders of organized interest groups). People may hold their pastor’s ideas in particular esteem and give his or her issue positions more credibility than positions they hear through some other medium. Ministers’ views not only inform their own activity; they can shape the perspectives of their congregations.
establishing means clergy as political leaders
Establishing Means: Clergy as Political Leaders
  • Clergy might send political messages. Ministers’ views not only inform their own activity; they can shape the perspectives of their congregations. They are by definition opinion leaders. They think ideologically, can communicate their positions through religious culture, have access to institutional resources, and have an audience who voluntarily comes to hear what they have to say. Ex. Civil Rights movement and Martin Luther King

Martin Luther King, Jr. 1929-1968

Baptist Minister

In 1963 March on Washington he delivered his ‘Have a Dream’ speech.

In 1964 receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

establishing means religious activists
Establishing Means: Religious Activists
  • Another major set of opinion leaders in the religious community are activists in religiously based organizations or interest groups. While clergy may episodically focus on politics, their essential responsibility is to meet and care for the spiritual needs of their congregations. However, the primary orientation of religiously based activists is centered on public policy.
  • Religious activists have long used the secular media and religiously oriented media to communicate their perspective and to differentiate themselves from other subcultures in society (Ex. Pat Robertson and )
establishing means community activists
Establishing Means: Community Activists
  • Community activists are harnessing the potential of religious faith to organize people to address the material realities of their lives. Working through congregations, these organizers use religious practices, worldview, and culture to address the concerns of their communities.
  • Elites use religious culture to frame and contextualize grievances (deriving from structural inequality) and employ religious resources to organize and strengthen in individual resolve to do something about them.