Politics and Religion. Dr. Troy Gibson. I. Course Introduction A. Why study religion and politics? Relevance in Political History (Western Civilization) Relevance in American History Relevance in Political Philosophy Relevance in Political Debate
Dr. Troy Gibson
A. Why study religion and politics?
*Someone may argue that religion ought not be relevant, but it would be mistaken or naïve to say that it isnot relevant.
C. How will we study R&P? Where do we limit the study? Course will focus mostly on most dominant religious groups, movements, events, trends, in American political history and behavior.
A. Definition: Religious belief and practice is (and ought to be) decreasing in relevance & acceptance as human progress is advanced through modernization and globalization.
B. Evidence – Religion is ‘safe’ and irrelevant
5. Rise of the secular left (1850-1950) - This group eventually gained control of the public/social institutions and successfully argued that anyone who wants to play with them must use their ball (secular or naturalistic assumptions about the world). Successfully changed basic understandings of science, education at all levels, public philosophy, church-state doctrine, model of personhood (from the soul to the psychologized self), and journalism. Notice: interest was not a neutral public space, but a new moral order (and toppling of the old Protestant one). Next generation gave us the 1960s revolutions and postmodernism.
7. Public Education – For secular elites, the goal was to create universal centers of intellectual reconstruction, where successive generations are trained exclusively in secular methods and eventually secular perspectives on. For protestants, it was to help the poor and (and in some cases, undermine catholic education). Result: secular thinking and secular viewpoints training over 90% of the last few generations. The 1960s was not accident. (Read p. 133 of Baker)
A. What is religion? A lot of the confusion about the role of religion in politics comes from our assumptions about religion, or how to define it. If religion means traditional rituals or practices of organized faith communities, then not all are religious (popular view in the West). If religion means adherence (wittingly or otherwise) to a philosophical system, basic beliefs about what is ultimately real, true, right, valuable, and meaningful, then everyone is religious; i.e., we all have a worldview.
B. 7 Worldview Questions from James Sire
1. Simple argument
Problem: How can people committed to different worldviews live/work 2gether as equals in a fair peaceful society? Answer: Limit reasons to only those premises held in common by all (‘overlapping’) and assume all citizens participate from behind a ‘veil of ignorance’, where no one knows what status they will hold in life. Result? Just society and possibility of ongoing conversation in public.
1. Critiques of Rawls – Not consistent with liberal democracy, free speech, or pluralism; discredits men like MLK and movements like the abolition movement; inconsistent with government neutrality since secularism/naturalism differ with Christianity, for instance, only in content not form; conceived using a non-neutral view of human nature (individual, atomistic, utility maximizing); conceived towards a desired result, the case of abortion and slavery (original position vs public reason); self-defeating since Rawls’ assertion that only reasons held in common are permissible is itself a principle not held in common by all, so it too should be excluded; conversion shows that religious or worldview-premised arguments are not “inaccessible”
2. Nicholas Wolterstorff’s critique of Richard Rorty (FROM THE READING)
A. Opening questions - do the spheres overlap? A word about political theology vs political ideology; or perhaps political idolatry? Reductionism:
B. Key questions
1. What is breadth and depth of Creation-Fall-Redemption?
2. What is the nature of the kingdom of God/Christ? What about the New Heavens and New Earth (passing away?)
3. When and how is that kingdom realized? (Millennium-Eschatology)
4. How adequate is natural revelation for all of life?
C. Christ and Culture (Reinhold Neibhur)
D. Political Theologies (Historic)
*Again, the key determinants of these models is one’s view of eschatology (when Christ returns), continuity between testaments, view of the state in NT (permissive or restrictive).
“The American founders revolutionized the Western tradition of religious liberty. But they also remained within this Western tradition, dependent on its enduring and evolving postulates about God and humanity, authority and liberty, church and state.”
1. Canon Law - The papacy claimed expanded jurisdiction in law, treatment of non-Christians, church life, and political matters. Out of these papal pronouncements, we get “Canon Law” (first modern body of international law). Based on notion that Pope had “two-swords” (civil law and canon law, where canon in superior to civil). Whole systems of law developed around seven sacraments (baptism, eucharist, penance, orders, extreme unction, confirmation, and marriage).
2. Rights – a whole body of legally recognized ‘rights’ emerged
Note on church government – the most common forms of church government (decision making structure) among the Reformers was congregational (democratic) or presbyterian (federal-republican). Clearly, many reformers came to believe that their view of how church gov’t should be structured came to influence how civil government should be structured (“Presbytery agreeth with monarchy like God with the devil”)
Comparing Covenants and Contracts:
*Think about a difference between marriage as a ‘covenant’ vs ‘contract’ and you might get the spirit of the distinction.
Political Sovereignty rests with God people state
Ground of Natural Human value/rights = Imago Deo (originates with God)
Justification for Gov’t = ordained by God at least to suppress evil (original sin), promote common good including proliferation of true religion (more communitarian)
Constitution = morally-informed pact between people having independent/equal status, constructing a limited gov’t based upon voluntary consent and established by promises made before God.
Implications – Reformation political thought led more to federal-republicanism, with divine law and God as supreme; elected reps from each political unit, tribe, church, state (Glorious Revolution, English Civil War). Also Federal
Secular Enlightenment Political Thought
NHR ground = State of Nature, mutual and unanimous consent, virtue of being human (originates with humans)*
Why gov’t? Self-interest, protect natural rights (life, liberty, property); return individuals to natural state of autonomy; more individualistic
Constitution is a legal contract among people to form gov’t for sake of self-interest, limited gov’t, and binds all (posterity and immigrants)
Implications - Enlightenment thought led more to democracy, with human law and the majority as supreme (French Revolution)
*Today’s liberal theorists like Rawls attempt to ground freedom in something other than natural rights/law (too religious) and appeal only to what is rational.
A. Why look beyond the Constitution to understand the role of religion in American politics?
B. To understand the intended relationship generally, at the time, we must identify the principle players involved in forging the consensus behind church-state relations in the 18th century by looking at four groups: on the religion side, Puritans and Evangelicals; on the political side, Enlightenment thinkers and Classical Republicans.
1. Great Awakening - a series of evangelists (Wesley, Edwards, Whitefield, Tennet) began to challenge the dry, rigid, religious legalism (‘conversionless Christianity’ where salvation is conferred through ritual or routine) and institutionalization, protection, of the church by the state. Wanted fuller separation, more freedom of association, and liberty of conscience (remember, these were either new or unestablished groups like Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians). John Leland, a Baptist fiery preach, said, “The notion of a Christian commonwealth should be exploded forever.”
E. Establishment of Civil or Public Religion - Result, the Classical Republicans won out. First, it won out in the first Continental Congresses through official actions/proclamations (chaplains, schools, missionaries, prayers, Northwest Ordinance 1878). Second, won out among states by leaving alone state establishment practices (promoting even particular denominations). Third, it won out in time (we continue to favor or accommodate, in a number of official and unofficial ways, generic monotheism and Christianity in everything from money to White House Christmas.
1. Congress – not binding on the states
2. Shall make no law – no new laws, but confirming existing ones? Probably not, since new laws easily passed that did in fact touch on religion.
3. Respecting an establishment – could refer to C not touching a state established religion (6 had them then); or could mean C cannot pass laws aimed at promoting an established religion (respecting is an umbrella term touching on doctrines; required worship, mandatory tithing, etc.); so on the first view, concern is not interfering with states; on the second, the concern would have been not to allow Congress to move in the direction of a national established church (with all attendant laws). The first reading gives Congress no guidance on national laws affecting religion; the second gives them guidance, but does not allow much beyond what was already commonplace (chaplains, religious education, etc.). Conclusion?
In the end, we get a new experiment, despite the lack of clarity, when it comes to church state relations. Read Madison p. 100-101.
*Motivation behind Blaine amendments and support for compulsory & expanded public education came especially from two sources: Secularists, who wanted to de-Christianized society & anti-Catholic Protestants (latter group wanted protect the dominant Protestant ethos (mode of thought) which permeated American society from Catholic immigration.
B. Disestablishment – only 7 of 12 had disestablishment statements, but the reality of religious pluralism and the strong free exercise language probably made it unnecessary for the other five.
*One rather consistent doctrine is that free exercise claims must be “sincere” rather than contrived (this means religious probing). Again, court has to explore and define what is religious (naturalist faith and a farmland shrine? Personal religious convictions. Etc.)
A. Scrutiny level – if “low-level” (rational basis), then law is upheld if it is reasonably related to a legitimate government interest; if “high-level” (strict scrutiny), the law is upheld only if gov’t interest is compelling and if it is narrowly tailored to achieve that interest (last resort and least offensive). So, what level of scrutiny did court use in Reynolds (the Mormon cases)?
4. Court reluctant to apply Smith because it seemed to disfavor minorities, but Smith is still the most frequently used test for Free Exercise featuring state law challenges. From mid-1990s to Locke vs Davey (2004), court even signaled that it might consider “unequal access” to government funds as a violation of free exercise, but Locke presents serious setback to that trend.
1. Separationism – government may take no actions that aid religion, either directly or perhaps even indirectly
2. Accommodationism – government may show or provide non-preferential support for religion
3. Differing views of ‘Neutrality’ (gray area)
Black’s language: "The 'establishment of religion' clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions or prefer one religion over another. Neither can force nor influence a person to go to or to remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs, for church attendance or non-attendance. No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion. Neither a state nor the Federal Government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups and vice versa. In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect 'a wall of separation between Church and State.'" 330 U.S. 1, 15-16.
B. Lemon’s criticisms –
II. Accommodation - like Strict Separation, this groups recognizes a real philosophical difference in religion and secularism, but insists that the only intention behind the establishment clause is to prevent the establishment of a particular church/denomination/religion. Beyond that, governments are free to promote/support religion non-preferentially. Clearest articulation in Rehnquist’s critique of Black and Stewart’s dissent in Engel v. Vitale (“I cannot see how an ‘official religion’ is established by letting those who want to say a prayer say it. On the contrary, I think that to deny the wish of these school children to join in reciting this prayer is to deny them the opportunity of sharing in the spiritual heritage of our nation…Since the days of John Marshall, our Crier [of the SC] has said, ‘God save the U.S. and this Honorable Court’…It was all summed up by this Court just ten years ago in a single sentence, ‘We are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being.’”
So what caused the shift to the GOP and Rise of the New Christian Right (political reawakening)?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUMuUWpgokQ&feature=related (4:25 mark)
IV. Changes in the NCR – though the number of NCR identifiers and sympathizers has not seriously changed since the early 80s, the NCR has experienced a few changes:
V. Assessing the success of the NCR
Introduction: Despite the rather simplistic understanding of religion and politics in America (religious conservatives vs religious liberals with seculars; called ‘Culture War’), some have argued it is more complex than that (African Americans, Muslims, Catholics, etc.). That is, different kinds of religious people look to and interpret politics differently according to their underlying theological traditions (African Americans favor expanded government programs for poor; Lincoln saw the Civil War as divine judgment; evangelicals want protection for Christians in Sudan; Jews want protection for Israel; Mainline Protestants favor environmental protections; many Catholics oppose both abortion and death penalty but favor government healthcare for the poor).
A. Theological differences with Mainline (the middle) and evangelicals (the right). Look at Table 3.3 in Wilson
2. Weak institutional structure; The institutional structure (churches) that so helped the NCR get off the ground and stay in the air just isn’t there among the RL. Mainliners are not as liberal as their leaders and the # of churchgoing blacks is falling or joining white evangelical churches. Couple that with low attendance among whites and you do not have the institutional resources the NCR did for starting up and staying afloat.
B. Hope for it? Why?
C. Irony – Christianity matters politically (drives how people vote and so on) over other factors (education, income, ideology, race, region) WHEN at least two things are happening: First, the church has a clear and rich social teaching tradition AND when laypeople sit under and obediently receive that teaching regularly. Clearly RC, far more than evangelicals, have the former (rich tradition of social teaching or church instructions to society at large). The latter scenario has changed dramatically since Vatican II.
Summary, they are more independent, less loyal, and not caught up in a culture war if there is one. They are behaving politically under little influence from Rome.
“For many minority communities, it is difficult to separate religious culture from the culture of the minority group.” Kenneth Wald
I. African-American Protestants
2. Prosperity Gospel – a recent development among mostly charasmatic Protestants, especially popular among AA charasmatics, this understanding of Christianity is that God intends for believers to be materially prosperous (Christ’s mission was to empower and advance the physical well-being of His people here on earth). Advanced especially through television ministries like Trinity Broadcasting Network and personal ministries of preachers like T.D. Jakes, Creflo Dollar, Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn, and Paul Crouch. Dollar quote p. 141 Wilson
A. Changing demographic dynamic among RCs (next slide)
All Catholics 18-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60-69 70+
% who are...
White 65% 47% 51% 68% 75% 78% 85%
Black 2 3 2 2 2 3 1
Latino 29 45 44 26 20 17 12
Other/Mixed 4 5 3 4 4 2 2
Total100 100 100 100 100 100 100
Among Catholics ages...
Church Attendance Latino Catholics Latino Evangelicals
Weekly 43% 74%
Less than Weekly 50 23
Never 7 3
C. Protestants and Latinos – Protestants, especially evangelicals, charasmatics and pentecostals have attracted large numbers of native born Latinos (have Latino services, Latino youth groups, etc.) Pentecostals and charasmatics, who stress miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit, personal empowerment, and non-elitism in church, have directly fashioned their message to very respondent Latinos (estimated 5m Latino Pentecostals). Today, Latinos are 60% Catholic, 23% evangelical, 7% mainline, 9% unaffiliated. 58% went for Bush in 2004, but flipped in 08.
1. For the GOP: Latinos, especially among protestant Latinos, are more socially conservative on abortion, homosexuality, and “family values” issues. 70% favor school prayer and 60% favor school vouchers. Bush has done well among Latinos compared to blacks (44% in 2004, 34% in 2000; 63% Latino P; 31% Latino C). He included many Latinos among his friends and appointees both in DC and Texas. Latinos are mostly Democratic, but Latino Protestants are divided and evangelical Latinos are slightly more Republican. But BIG shift (14pts swing) for Obama in 2008 (Kerry got 53% but Obama got 67%).
4. Conclusion: It appears that politically, Latino Protestantism is having a much greater distinct effect on Latinos than simply being Latino or Latino Catholicism (latter two tend to behave similarly).
“There are fewer and fewer [evangelical leaders who subscribe to replacement theology] as time goes along. They are seeing, finally, the error of replacement theology. The vast majority of evangelicals do not believe in replacement theology. Evangelicals believe that Israel has a Bible mandate to the land, a divine covenant for the land of Israel, forever. That the Jewish people are chosen of God and are the apple of God’s eye. That Christians have a Bible mandate to be supportive of Israel and the Jewish people, to demonstrate to the Jewish people what they have not experienced from Christianity for 2,000 years… the love of God.”- Source: Evangelicals seeing the error of replacement theology, The Jerusalem Post, Israel, Mar. 20, 2006
One other little thing, the vast majority also believe that Jews must repent and believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved. Still a ‘problem’ for the alliance.
Most appealing to non-Mormons – sealing of families/marriages ‘for time and eternity’ or the physical reuniting/reconstitution of families together in the afterlife as now.
D. Political History – Mormons were treated with suspicion by many Americans. Their communalism, separatism (People’s Political Party), alleged heresy, bloc voting, support for polygamy and consequent growth, and early provocative political-militant language by Prophets (also Mountain Meadows Massacre) led many to take a extreme political action against them (Sup Ct actually upheld a law legally dissolving the organization). Assimilative actions by the church (abandon polygamy, dissolve Party, encourage traditional political behavior including two-party state etc.) resulted in recognition of Utah as a state in 1896.
I. American Muslims – (1% roughly; 3 million people; rapidly outpacing Jews in number; 1,500 mosques up from 1 in 1930; nearly all 1st or 2nd generation immigrants with 65% foreign born)
1. Shia believe that the leader of Islam (Imam) should be appointed by God through each descendent of Mohammed (first was Ali, a cousin and then son-in-law of Mohammed).
2. Key political groups – Islamic Society of North America – concerned with civil liberties protections for Muslims, especially after 9/11.
3. 9/11 and its aftermath has caused many Muslims to unite in order to refute and fight against mischaracterizations of American Muslims.
3. Conservative on Social Affairs, but liberal on welfare state – since they are typically socially conservative, many thought that Muslims may become an ally of the GOP (majority voted for Bush in 2000). But 9/11 and the War on Terror changed all that (90% backed Obama in 2008)
6. Louis Farrakhan – continued the nationalistic and separatist vision of Muhammed. Appeals to urban males; calls a separate community with alternative values; in his public speeches, often uses traditional Christian phrases or stories, children’s songs, Bible passages, sayings of Jesus, to illustrate his points and connect with Black protestants.
7. Distinct doctrines – God manifested himself in human form to a black Muslim in the 1930s; E. Muhammed was another prophet of Allah; from the original black man, all races were created; several thousand years ago, Yakub (mad scientist) developed an experiment ultimately created a ‘race of devils’ (whites and Jews); whites are not worthy of evangelism and are not permitted as members to the NOI.
John Lennon - Imagine
B. Defined perhaps more by what they are not (Read Reich p. 19 in Hunter Baker’s book)
A. History – culturally, there has been an public outspoken anti-fundamentalist sentiment going back to the early 1900s when secular Darwinian thinkers gained control of cultural institutions, like newspapers and popularized an image of a Christian fundamentalist as half-wits, ignoramuses, menaces to Western civilization, backwoods, trash.
Survey data shows the following profile of Seculars: morality = relativistic, more than half self-identify as liberal, just as powerful a determinant of attitudes on social issues as religion is for traditionalists, far less willing to stress the importance of traditional family forms, sexual mores, and far more pro-choice; far more hostile to acceptance of public role for religion in public square, antipathy towards Catholic Church and especially evangelicals or fundamentalists.
Key point: Just as evangelicals have grown in prominence among Republicans (both among voters and in the party itself; much is made of this); the same is true concerning seculars and anti-fundamentalists among Dems. In fact, antagonism towards Christian fundamentalists is a strong predictor of vote choice in every election cycle since 1992. For instance, 43% of Kerry’s white voters came from anti-fundamentalists while 2/3s of Bush’s voters came from those expressing positive views of both the Catholic Church and Christian fundamentalists.