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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

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politics and religion

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
  • Relevance in Political Outcomes (parties, policy, voting, elections, groups, etc.)
  • Applies to us all? The political question, then, is not, How does religion relate to non-religious politics? but rather, What kind of politics—what stances, arguments, policies, and principles—flow from different religions or ways of understanding the world and life, whether they are older (traditional) or newer ‘religions’? We will not understand the political dynamics of the contemporary world until we recognize the religiousness of all peoples and cultures and the differences among their basic assumptions about human flourishing and their diverse impacts on political and economic developments.

*Someone may argue that religion ought not be relevant, but it would be mistaken or naïve to say that it isnot relevant.

The place of politics and religion in America (comparatively speaking). Neither Iran, England, France, or Sweden. No homework on Wednesday nights; government offices closed on Sundays; out on Easter and Christmas. Peter Berge: “If India is the most religious country on our planet, and Sweden is the least religious, America is a land of Indians ruled by Swedes.” Instead, we have a sort of “permissive establishment” of religion here, where the major religion is accommodated in public life (not oppressive, not prescriptive, not entirely secular).

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.

II. But What about the Secularization thesis?

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

  • Decline of religiosity (in Europe, at least)
  • Rise of dualism (division of sacred/secular airtight categories) and the privatization/secularization of Christianity (America); paradigm shift; Christian and religious categories, once taken for granted, no longer welcome as lenses through which we must interpret the world; from 1950-today America moved from dualism towards postmodernism. (Example: Bible-theft).
    • How pervasive? Can you imagine a research program or department who’s whole mission was to examine the phenomenon of secularism?
  • Responses to naturalism by Christians, a new protestantism: growth in subjective faith, growth in experiential faith; growth in relative faith; growth in spiritualism; decline of traditionalism and growth in secular marketing strategies (p. 15 Wald).
C. Causes of Secularization
  • Dualism in Theology (Aquinas division of Nature and Grace)
  • Dualism in Philosophy - Especially articulated in the thought of Immanuel Kant, we divide knowledge, truth, and all activity into revelation vs reason, science vs faith, fact vs value, etc. This, we say, is the nature of knowledge and we add that matters of faith, values, and revelation (religion) are of private use only while matters of fact, science, and reason are of public use.
  • Great Awakening’s identification of Christian life with individual experience, not testable truth claims and corporate confessions of faith.
  • Surrender of the fundamentalists (1900-1970)

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.

6. Growth of Modern Government – Government was once limited to “commerce and civil order” and the church focused on charity and inculcation of goodness and truth. But when gov’t expanded its role (welfare-regulatory state), it pushed religion to those areas not important enough to have received the help/control of government (margins of public life).

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)

D. Challenges to secularization (in addition to the U.S. itself) – (1) birth, marriage, immigration patterns in U.S. and especially Europe (2) stable beliefs and practice of evangelicals despite economic incline; regular church attendance in U.S. well over 50% (3) growth of Islam and Christianity worldwide (4) return of theology in American evangelicalism (SBC 30% ministers Reformed) (5) Argument that secularization is not non-religious; Some religions are traditional, some are new, and among the new religions are those guided by a secular faith, a belief system held by communities whose gods--which they do not acknowledge as gods—are the idols of human autonomy, scientific rationality, technological progress, the nation, economic growth, a communist future, or sheer power in itself (6) argument that religion persists because it, and not science, satisfies a basic human need, the desire to explain and existence/life as meaningful (7) resurgence of religion in public life in the name of government neutrality (result of postmodernism)
III. Worldview and Presuppositions

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

  • What is prime reality?
  • What is the nature of external reality?
  • What is a human being?
  • What happens at death?
  • Why/how is it possible to know anything at all?
  • How do know right from wrong?
  • What is the meaning of human history?
C. If the worldview concept is correct (everyone’s got one), then one could never divorce religion from politics. Worldviews do not cloud our judgment, they determine our judgment. There is no “free-thinker,” can’t judge religion except on the basis of another religion; GK Chesterton and the universal reality of dogmatism. AND. If politics is about the authoritative allocation of values (choosing which values to legislate), then politics necessarily is informed by worldview convictions about what values are best for society.
IV. Religious Arguments in Public Discourse (Draw 2 Circles – Religion/Politics

1. Simple argument

  • Different beliefs about God
  • Differences may lead to violence
  • With no certainty about religion, avoid religion in public space
  • John Rawls and the doctrine of Public Reason

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.

3. Natural Law - In politics, we use science and reason (accessible to all by God’s natural revelation). In religion, we use special revelation (word of God). Robert George agrees that religious reasons must not be used as political reasons. He only argues that Rawls must not limit political reasons to only those reasons held in common by all people. As a natural law philosopher, he insists that some truths can be ascertained by all through unaided natural reason and are therefore acceptable in the public square, even if not all citizens recognize them or even if these naturally discerned truths are rejected by many. If Rawls requires ‘overlapping’ reasons, George requires ‘natural’ reasons, but both ultimately reject revealed or religious reasons.
B. YES! PERMIT THE DIFFERENT VOICES! (some public subject matter, say justice, overlaps and is relevant in one’s religious concerns; concentric circles)

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)

Key concepts in Political Theology

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?

  • Is the state supposed to enforce the moral law of God. What about the first table?

C. Christ and Culture (Reinhold Neibhur)

  • Christ against Culture (opposition; ‘Holy Huddle’ escapism; the culture is lost and evil and Christians should separate themselves entirely); Quaker, “third-race” sectarians; Anabaptists traditions
  • Christ of Culture (agreement; whatever is good/enjoyable/helpful in culture is coextensive with Christianity; no conflict at all); 19th – 20th century liberal Protestantism (Jefferson)
Christ above culture (grace perfects nature; synthesis where culture is finished off by church; culture can lead you to God but church must take you the rest of the way); Aquinas and Roman Catholic tradition
  • Christ and culture in paradox (tension; dualist); Lutheran
  • Christ transforms culture (reformational; creation is good being misdirected and is in need of recreational work of Christ through Christians); Calvinistic and social gospel movement

D. Political Theologies (Historic)

    • Strong Separation Models – Baptist (historic) and Anabaptist traditions (God’s rule ended at the cross); Fundamentalists early 20th century. My kingdom is not of this world; Be ye not conformed to this world.
    • Interactive You are salt and light; In but not of the world; thy kingdom come; cultural mandate in Genesis
      • Indirect influence: Lutheran Two Kingdom theory (state is not evil, but irrelevant for the church (except in gross injustice); Christians are dual citizens of two non-overlapping God ordained kingdoms operating under separate purposes, ethical codes, means, etc.).
      • Direct influence: Vatican II-Roman Catholic (subsidiarity and solidarity) and Dutch Reformed Protestant Principled-Pluralism (this neo-Calvinist seeks to find biblical principles of justice that apply without preference for one professed faith over another, in a diverse society); Neo-evangelicalism (response to fundamentalist withdrawal; engage every front, but tempered by degree of scriptural clarity; expect neither utopia or ruin); Liberation Theology (theology from the oppressed)
3. Strong Church-State Affinity – Trent - Roman Catholic, Erastian-Anglican, National Confessionalist and Christian America groups (Puritans and the Christian commonwealth). All authority has been given to me in heaven and earth (Matt. 28:18)

*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).

I. Religion in American Political History
  • Religious Groupings based on affiliation surveys
    • Evangelical Protestants (26.3%) – trace their heritage to the Protestant Reformation of 16th century and Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th centuries); doctrinal distinctives: stress the final, reliable, and sufficient authority of the Bible in all that it affirms; typically stress the exclusive truth of Christianity and universal need for justification before God through faith in the substitutionary atoning work of Jesus Christ. E.g. Southern Baptists, Presbyterian Church of America, Assemblies of God.
    • Mainline Protestants (18%) – same heritage, but have departed from the traditional doctrines (especially regarding scripture: bible contains/becomes, but is not, the very Word of God) from the Reformation in light of modernity and scientific theories of Darwin (indeed, no unifying system of doctrine). E.g. United Methodists, PCUSA, United Church of Christ. Less likely to accept a literal Hell or universal need for conversion. More likely to stress social justice. *High percentage of evangelicals attending mainline denominations (South).
Roman Catholics (24%; 46% of immigrants are Catholic; 29% of all Catholics are Latinos; youngest cohort split between whites and Latinos) – considers itself to be the original and one true church of Christ through apostolic succession from Peter and the apostles. Distinguishing doctrines: Ecclesiastical supremacy, necessity, and infallibility of the church, headed by the Pope or Bishop of Rome in all matters of faith. Religious authority is divided between tradition, scripture, and teaching magisterium
  • Historically Black Protestant denominations (7%); born out of revivalism in the late 18th and early 19th century; largest is Church of God in Christ
  • Unaffiliated or Secular (16%; doubled in 20 years; 25% of 18-29; 5-7% atheist or agnostic)
    • Secular (7) – free from” religion” and stress belief in the powers of human reason over revelation in the discovery of truth (secular humanism).
    • Atheist, Agnostic (4) – considers the evidence for God’s existence to be unpersuasive (they may then disbelieve or leave it at that).
    • Unaffiliated Believers (5)
  • Others: Mormon 2%; Jews 2%; Muslim 1-2%; Hindu, Buddhist, Jehovah Witness, Orthodox, Other Christian, all under 1% each
Brief Church and State History Leading to American Birth

“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.”

  • First Millennium
  • Christians came out of periods of extensive and intensive persecution by the Romans. They were noncomformist (refused to worship pagan gods or Ceasar) and agitators (sought to transform pagan society with Christian morality; charity, burials, infants, social customs). Emperor Julian “These impious Galileans not only feed their own poor, but ours also; welcoming them into their agapae, they attract them, as children are attracted, with cakes. Whilst the pagan priests neglect the poor, the hated Galileans devote themselves to works of charity, and by a display of false compassion have established and given effect to their pernicious errors. See their love-feasts, and their tables spread for the indigent. Such practice is common among them, and causes a contempt for our gods.”
  • Persecution ended when Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity, signed the Edict of Milan (311) tolerating all religious beliefs though privileging Christianity some.
Future emperors, however, began to pursue a policy of preference and control over Trinitarian Christianity (supreme over church and state).
  • Augustine put these realities together in City of God (413-427), where he argued that Christians are members of a different city (not city of man), but it would be better for all if the rulers of the city of man favored Christianity (though institutionally separate from, if not under, church authority). BUT, few emperors could resist urge to consolidate and control the spheres. He further refutes Roman superiority as fulfillment of history (focal point). Rather, no state (Christian or otherwise) can be identified as God’s Kingdom on earth; heavenly kingdom is always future.
  • Papal Revolution – changed all that after 1050 when a series of Popes moved towards ecclesiastical separation from and even control of civil leaders (Catholic independence).

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

out of this tradition. These rights constrained church/state and protected the Catholic faithful (not others) from arbitrary or oppressive ecclesiastical and civil decisions.
  • This system of international law began to break down as nation-state kings asserted their own territorial authority and refused to recognize Canon Law as absolute/binding.
  • Protestant Reformation (16th and 17th century); march toward religious tolerance, liberty, disestablishment, constitutional republicanism
  • Luther’s contribution – (1) territorialized the faith; establishment should be local (2) Two Kingdom Theory – Christians are members of two God ordained, legitimate, good kingdoms; The civil sphere administers law; church administers Gospel.
  • Anglicans nationalized the faith – model that was basically NOT continued by new world protestants
  • Anabaptists communalized the faith – emphasis was on the irreconcilable differences between realm of religion/church and realm of the world.
Calvin’s reformation congregationalized the faith; church was to be ruled by elected leaders (pastors, elders, deacons) bound to written confessions of faith
  • Political Implications of PR: Reformers of both generations articulated a political philosophy based upon their reading of Scripture which denied the absolute authority of the state (or people); considered rulers and subjects as equally valuable (same as in church); placed the people and law above the king; generally called for a federal-democratic, divided, political system of limited government to deal with sinful tyranny; called for a constitution which mirrored Biblical covenants where divine law (perhaps 10 commandments) serves as a transcendent ground of civil law (confession in church; covenant in politics); acknowledged right of people to resist and depose a king who violates the terms of covenant; insisted that we do not form government based on self-interest or ideals that we ourselves determine (read p. 13 Witte)

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”)

E. Constitutional Covenantalism: The Puritans viewed a covenant as a social and divine promise: each participant in the covenant is expected to do certain things. A violation of the covenant could have the most disastrous consequences for those who had entered therein. Following biblical precedents, a covenant would also last from generation to generation. By means of these covenants, Puritans were among the first English speaking people to implement a government bound by written words in a single document. Example, Deut 1:1-17

Comparing Covenants and Contracts:

  • Covenants use Broad instead of Narrow language (no loopholes)
  • Covenants are solemn sacred promises instead of cold legal words on paper
  • Covenants are social/communitarian in nature instead of individual (We instead of I)
  • Covenants identify a collective purpose and identity
  • Covenants are validated or sealed in the presence of and by an external higher authority, typically God

*Think about a difference between marriage as a ‘covenant’ vs ‘contract’ and you might get the spirit of the distinction.

Reformation Political Thought

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

People  State

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.

Religion and the Constitution in 18th Century America
  • Introduction - how did America come to accept/enshrine principles of religious liberty, tolerance, disestablishment, church-state separation?

A. Why look beyond the Constitution to understand the role of religion in American politics?

  • Constitution sets outer boundaries (no prescription or proscription of religion by government).
  • The records of the constitutional congresses’ debates on the first amendment are brief/sketchy.
  • Limited to Congress, not states (“Congress shall make no law…)
  • Framers intended for states to interpret these clauses and appropriate them as they saw fit (Madison quote, Witte, p. 21)

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.

The four groups
  • American Puritans (dominant from 1630-1730) and the Christian Commonwealth – having been persecuted and/or religious regulation by both Catholic and especially Anglican monarchies, this group took their Calvinism to America (system of Christian theology stressing the utter sovereignty of God in all things as well as the institutional separation of church/state). Key group are Congregationalists.
  • Church and State are separate distinct ‘covenantal associations’ or two seats of God’s authority. Church was about preaching, sacraments, charity. State was about enforcing law, punishing crime, instilling virtue, and order. Clergy could not hold political office; political leaders could not hold church office.
  • BUT, though not to be confounded, they were to be “close and compact” (the community is a common project of both church and state, so some interdependence). State provide church with public properties, tax exemptions, subsidies, Sabbath Day laws. Church provided state with meetinghouses/chapels, community schools/libraries, maintenance of census rolls, marriage, death certificates; offered ‘election day sermons’ to promote civil participation.
  • Emphasis on community and local religious conformity led
to banishment of dissidents, like Quakers, Baptists, Catholics, Jews, etc. Puritans were separatists from Anglicanism, but this did not initially seem to require them to accept disestablishment or toleration at the local level.
  • Things changed, however, in 1689 (Toleration Act) as more and different kinds of Protestants from around Europe sailed over. The Act required toleration, but not full political equality of, other traditional Protestant churches. More and more, the ‘covenantal’ idea of civil society (though not church society) was viewed as more open and voluntarist by Puritans in terms of individual conscience (open to other Christian sects). Came to celebrate, rather than suppress, denominationalism in theology (idea that there are many paths to God withinorthodoxProtestant Christianity) and toleration of religious pluralism in civil society. Read pp. 25-26 Witte.
  • Evangelicals – Product of the Great Awakening (1720-1780).

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.”

Isaac Backus, Reformed Baptist theologian mid to late 18th century (p. 28) – Christianity should fear BOTH state repression and support of religion. Establishment results in a distraction from divine mandates and capture of established church. Want to promote Christianity? Deregulate it. Besides, the state and church are not working on the same projects (maintaining order vs proclaiming gospel) or using the same means (sword vs means of grace). He coined term separation of church and state. Led evangelicals in pushing for constitutional means of disestablishing religion.
  • Enlightenment views – provided theory complementing evangelical theology on religious liberty. Locke argued that the state only exists to protect life, liberty and property (man’s ‘outward’ concerns), not to promote religion (man’s ‘inward’ concern). Laws cannot touch one’s mind, which is the object of religious activity. He did, however, argue that state laws would only ‘seldom’ conflict with Christian values and he refused to tolerate atheists altogether (can’t be trusted to keep promises or oaths). Saw disestablishment and religious liberty as solution to violent religious conflict (political instability). Summarized by Madison well (p. 31 Witte).
Republican Views – spokespersons were Washington, Adams, Benjamin Rush, etc. If Enlightenment thinkers (like Jefferson) naturally aligned with Evangelicals, Classical Republicans naturally aligned with old Puritans. Agree with both E’s on disestablishment and liberty of conscience, BUT wanted the state/public square feature a common religious ethic (non-sectarian and theologically specific). They stressed the utility of Christianity as a prerequisite to happy citizens, effective/efficient good government (pillar of society and necessary for its peace, prosperity, and endurance). Read p. 33. Their approach was similar to Massachusetts constitution (see p. 34-35)

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.

Forging the First Amendment at the Constitutional Convention
  • The Context of Religion Clauses leading up (1774-1787)
  • Paid chaplains to lead prayer at Cont Congress entire time.
  • Thanksgiving day and fast-day proclamations (1775), one of four proclamations “it is the indispensable duty of all men to adore the superintending Providence of the Almighty God.” Also urged all men to “express the grateful feelings of their hearts” by “publick humiliation, fasting, and prayer” and “confess and deplore our many sins” and pray that “it may please God through the Merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of Remembrance,” that God would grant the “promotion and enlargement of that Kingdom, which consisteth in Righteousness, Peace, Joy, in the Holy Ghost.”
  • Voted to fund the procurement of 20k Bibles for distribution in the States (never done due to lack of funds; later merely encouraged states to have “one or more new and correct editions of the Old and New Testament to be printed…”
Writers of the Articles of Confederation refused to prohibit religious tests for public office holding
  • Resulting sentiment captured in the Northwest Ordinance AFTER the First Amendment was written. On the one hand, in the territory no one was to be “molested” on account of his religion, but religion was to be promoted in the territory by the government.
  • Drafting Process
  • House version: “Congress shall make no law establishing religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, nor shall the rights of conscience be infringed.” Elsewhere, a sixth amendment would say, “No person religiously scrupulous shall be compelled to bear arms in person.
  • Senate version (three early versions defeated read p. 87-88). Senate version (#19 p. 88): Congress shall make no law establishing articles of faith or mode of worship, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
  • A conference committee (HR and S) composed of a cross-section of our four groups gave us our current/final version with no surviving debate details.
How are we to make sense of their unclear intentions? Two possibilities:
  • Thinner reading – clauses set outer boundaries of appropriate congressional actions on religion (neither prescribe nor proscribe). Leaves open later discussion and perhaps legislation on religion. Based on fact that earlier drafts had more sweeping language and were rejected (Congress shall not ‘touch’ or ‘favor’ or ‘prefer’ religion). Instead, they adopted ‘respecting’ (point to) establishing religion.
  • Thicker readings – (more reading in to the words)

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?

Non-preferentialism – a mixture of these views suggesting that all the founders intended (or could agree upon) was to outlaw an established national religion, but allows for support of religion in general. Put positively, C can “touch” religion so long as it favors no particular one. This view explains the various laws touching on religion (chaplains, etc.). This view has a harder time explaining the word “respecting” however.
  • Prohibiting Free Exercise – umbrella term referring to all that is meant by free exercise; this reading would mean that it merely prevents C from prohibiting free exercise of religion (they dropped the liberty of conscience clause)
  • Religion – IMPORTANT DEFINITION; to get free exercise, it must be religious; to constitute establishment it must be a religion (or religious); what is the pale of recognized religion? Then it did not go beyond monotheism (Jews, Islam, Deism, Christianity, etc.). What about conscientious objectors?

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.

religion clause interpretation prior to 1947
Religion Clause Interpretation prior to 1947
  • Introduction – very few national laws touching on religion (or challenging existing laws doing so). Religion laws were left to states (and the development of new state constitutions).
  • State Constitutional treatments of free ex & establishment
  • Free Exercise - State constitutions articulated and stipulated very detailed religious liberty and conscience laws (far beyond first amendment language), recognized reality of and equality between religious groups (explosion after 2nd Great Awakening); they moved towards greater separation between church and state (two states banned clergy from political office until 1978 and several states adopted “Blaine” amendments which prohibited tax dollars from being spent on any church or sectarian institution or activity).

*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.

*Yet, most of the constitutions grounded or justified their protections of religious liberty in their understanding of what ‘Almighty God’ would have us do to fellow persons.
  • Law in action vs Law on the books; Frontier as the release valve (1787-1947)
  • Challenge and legacy of the Founders: state sought to balance the general freedom of all private religions with the general patronage of one common public religion (Protestant Christianity) with dissenters moving (or moving West) for greater freedom. In short, promote both pluralism & civil religion.
  • A measure of discrimination still occurred (NE against Quakers, Baptists, Methodists; NY, NJ, PA against Unitarians, Adventists, Christian Science; South against Catholics; and all against Jews, Native American religion, and Islam).
  • Civil religion continued – symbols (crucifixes, In God We Trust, etc.), Ten Commandments, national prayers, ‘blue-laws’ (Sunday observance, blasphemy, etc.), official holidays were Christian, property grants/subsidies for poor Christian churches/charities/schools; mandatory chapel and Bible teaching in public schools; laws banning polygamy, prostitution, pornography, gambling, often banned as offenses to Christian morality. Legal defense? Christianity is a part of the common law tradition (bedrock or foundation of law).
Getting out of town or state – religious minorities in an area just moved around until they were more comfortable (Mormons moved from NY to Ohio to MO to IL to Utah then ‘colonized’ NV and ID). Free spirits moved to Mountain West and Oregon or Washington.
  • Religious diversity reached all time high at the turn of the century (1900). Why?
  • 2nd Great Awakening (1820-1860) – complete abandonment of tradition, creeds, and confessions; stressed new experiential thing in Christian (common message was ‘Restoration’).
  • ‘Reconquest’ of eastern seaboard by Baptists, Methodists, and Catholics
  • Civil War – intradenominational divisions = new den
  • Civil War amendments freed not only slaves but latent African-American churches
  • Immigration – European (especially Catholics) and some Eastern (Buddhist, Hinduism, etc.).
  • Key Result – MAJOR change in religious landscape (Table 5.1). From Anglican and Reformed/Calvinist to Evangelical. Irony? Evangelicals far more interested in separation of c/s but far more interested in an implicit endorsement by state/society of basic Protestant Christian values.
Rise of the Secularists (1870-1920) – originally allies with Evangelicals on establishment and liberty of conscience. But now moved to take over knowledge production centers of society (education, law, science) by extricating elite institutions of society and the Protestant cultural hegemony, of any thing like a public or relevant Christian worldview.
  • Aim to change what the US Supreme Court said was true of America (if one takes “a view of American life as expressed by its laws, its business, its customs and its society, we find everywhere a clear recognition of the same truth…that this is a Christian nation.” Unanimous opinion, 1892).
  • Education, always first. A new “progressivist” (i.e., naturalistic) vision of knowledge came to dominate higher ed, so that Christian higher ed (nearly all colleges at the time) began relegating religion to chapel service and graduation ceremonies (Is Danforth chapel necessary?).
  • Science and religion recast into “warfare” models rather than “complimentary” models.
  • Legal realism replaced natural law as basis of law (no immutable truths, but evolving subjective basis).
Pop culture – basic Christian ethic in mass public ed derooted; collective understanding of the human person changed from divinely created focused on morality and character to modern psychological constructions of the self centering on personality, instinct, and desire; leading cultural leaders, speakers, moralizers were Protestants before bur now replaced by new cultural authorities in journalism and social sciences
  • Supreme Court (Polygamy, the Mormons, a case in point)
  • Prior to 1940, SC reviewed a few state laws on religion, but not under First Amendment scrutiny (said Congress, not States). Only used principles of law and fairness (17 cases during this time).
  • But this changed in 1862, when Congress made Polygamy a federal crime and in 1882, laws were passed barring polygamists and plural cohabiters from voting, holding office, and serving on juries. In 1887, sought to dismantle the Mormon Church altogether (siezing its property) since it was seen as a haven for illegal polygamists.
  • Cases - Reynolds v. United States (1879), Davis v. Beason (1890), and CJCLDS vs U.S. (1890) – all featured Mormons challenging these laws (law against bigamy, mandatory anti-polygamy oath, gov’t dissolving the Mormon church’s charter).
  • Rulings – SC upheld Congressional law in each instance, not even entertaining Mormon free exercise claims (protects beliefs, not actions, they said).
  • Context of national fear of Mormons? Smith’s frequent political language/gestures (ran for president, formed militias, spoke of building a kingdom headed by Mormons in America; polygamy and birth rates, mystery in Utah); though not through violent rebellion.
  • Court’s reaction (p. 128 Bradley).
  • Issue resloved when Utah sought statehood and the LDS church disavowed polygamy is right in this age.
  • Consequence: Court reduced free exercise to a minimalist guarantee of liberty of conscience ALONE (mere opinions can’t be touched).
Modern Free Exercise Law
  • Introduction
  • New Era (erosion of federalism in religious liberty law) where religious liberty is influenced more by US SC rather than states. First 150 years, 31 religious liberty cases NONE using the first amendment. Last 70 years, 130 religious liberty cases, MOST using first amendment. Why?
  • Incorporation – apply many of the Bill of Rights to states.
  • Consequences – states have not stopped legislating on religion, but must keep one eye on constitutional law. Problem is, 70 years of religious liberty law has been fraught with inconsistencies.
  • Mapping Modern Free Exercise Doctrine
  • Key points of conflict - Cases feature conflicts between private religious practice/belief and governmental power/action. Claimants argue that some law “prohibits” their free exercise of religion by burdening (inhibiting acts of worship; commanding them to do something that conflicts with their doctrines/practices; discriminates by burdening their religious activities but not those of others).
  • Easy cases – Jehovah Witnesses forced to swear an oath or Jews forced to remove a yarmulke.
Hard cases – unemployment insurance is denied to an applicant because he refuses to work on Saturday for religious reasons; a secular humanist refuses to serve in the military; a religious university refuses to accept blacks because it thinks the Bible requires separation of races; a business requires devotion attendance for all employees.

*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.)

  • Free Exercise Case law

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)?

  • Scherbert and Smith – since Reynolds, court moved in a heightened scrutiny direction.
Scherbert vs. Verner (1963) – Scherbert gave us the strict scrutiny test in FE cases (compelling interest and narrowly tailored). This favored religious minorities.
  • Employment Division v. Smith (1990) – Court rejected strict scrutiny and adopted a low-level test. A law is valid so long as it is facially neutral and generally applicable. If not, strict scrutiny test.
  • Evaluation of Smith - The ‘Smith test” was used to overturn a local anti-Santeria law in FL, but critics remain. They see the test is a return to Reynolds (strict scrutiny) and hurting religious minorities (if generally applicable, tough). Congress reacted to Smith with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (1993), but the SC ruled that the Act was unconstitutional when applied to the states. So, we are left with Smith test for state law (low-level) and RFRA in federal law.

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.

modern establishment clause
Modern Establishment Clause
  • Introduction
  • Nature of conflict – government has taken an action “respecting an establishment of religion” (e.g., coercing participation in religious activity; improper public use of religious places or things; allied with religious causes or groups; discriminates in favor of one religious interest over others).
  • No other body of Const. Law is more ambiguous or difficult to follow
  • Standards vary broadly under three headings

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)

Strict Separation – Justice Hugo Black articulated this doctrine in the 1947 Everson v. Board of Education of Ewing Township decision. Used Jefferson’s metaphor from his letter to the Dansbury Baptists as the lens through we interpret the establishment clause. Years later, the court constructed an allegedly clearer and more relaxed test for deciding establishment clause cases. Neutrality means secular according to this view.

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.

Lemon test – A law is constitutional (not guilty of establishment) if:
  • It has a ‘secular purpose’
  • It’s ‘primary effect’ neither ‘advances nor inhibits religion’
  • Does not ‘foster an excessive entanglement with religion’

B. Lemon’s criticisms –

  • Why a secular purpose and what is a secular purpose? Justice Potter, we may be moving toward “an establishment of the religion of secularism.” Does Lemon exempt newer philosophies like liberalism/secularism? Does this empty traditional public religious promotions like civil religion of all substance (Nebraska chaplain does not aid religion)? In 1961 (McGowan v. State of MD), Justice Earl Warren UPHELD Sunday closing laws. But, he did so using Lemon finding no violation of the first prong. “Secular justifications have been advanced for making Sunday a day of rest, a day when people may recover from the labors of the week just passed and may physically and mentally prepare for the week’s work to come…” MD’s law “merely happens to coincide or harmonize with the tents of some or all religions.”
Can excessive entanglement be avoided? If government must be sure to avoid advancing religion, then won’t it be progressively entangled with it? Is this feasible in the age of the modern state (if gov’t gets in, religion get out; but gov’t gets in everywhere today)
  • Result – often ignored, partially applied, inconsistently interpreted, heavy criticism from all sides on the court (Paul Marshall quote p. 129 of his book). Most on the SC today have largely, though not explicitly, abandoned the test (favoring either the old strict separation principle, or accommodation, or equal treatment/positive neutrality principle).

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.’”

Rehnquist dissent in Wallace (handout)
  • Equal Treatment or ‘Positive Neutrality’ (government must be evenhanded between religion and irreligion).
  • Based on philosophy in part and supported by a series of SC decisions (especially Rosenberger).
  • Philosophy – religion is utterly pervasive in all human endeavors but takes many forms (some include a god, gods, no god). Religion is functionally synonymous with the concept of ‘worldview’. In an atmosphere of proliferating religious pluralism (progressively since founding), government neutrality requires that it be evenhanded between worldview adherents. This respects everyone’s free exercise of religion in the public space. Example of Univ. of Alabama physiology prof. As James Reichley put it, “Banishment of religion does not represent neutrality between religion and secularism; conduct of public institutions without any acknowledgement of religion IS secularism.” This is increasingly relevant in an age where government activity and religious activity increasingly overlap. Tend to argue that the intention of the founders is that government be neutral (evanhanded) between real worldviews operating in society (at first, only Christian denominations, but then different religions, and today religious and secular worldviews).
2. Series of cases from early 90s to 2000: equal access to school and university facilities, required a school to rent facilities to a church to show religious film, required a state to fund the religious education of a blind student, overturned previous decision now allowing public school teachers to provide remedial instruction in religiously based schools.
  • Public policy support (Charitable Choice Act 1996) – federal government may not exclude faith-based charities from contracting with government to provide social services if it opens itself up to bids from other private sector (secular) charities.
  • Rosenberger vs Univ of Virginia (1995) – Kennedy “We have held that the guarantee of neutrality is respected, not offended, when the government, following neutral criteria and evenhanded policies, extends benefits to recipients whose ideologies and viewpoints, including religious ones, are broad and diverse.” Basically, UVA could choose to fund none, or all, but if it chose to fund secular organizations it must also fund religious ones. Souter’s dissent – “The Court today, for the first time, approves direct funding of core religious activities by an arm of the State….The Univ exercises the power of the State to compel a student to pay [for] it, and the use of any part of it for the direct support of religious activity thus strikes at what we have repeatedly held to be at the heart of the prohibition on establishment.”
The only other viable establishment standard worth noting is O’Conner’s ‘endorsement’ test. In it, she wants to know only if the government’s actions would be construed by the ‘objective observer’ as endorsement of religion. So, in Wallace vs. Jaffree, Alabama’s moment of silence was unconstitutional to her because the statute said students should pause for a “moment of silence or prayer.” If prayer had been excluded from the language, she said she had no problem with it. But saying prayer implied endorsement of a religious activity.
the new christian right
The New Christian Right
  • Introduction
  • It’s ‘New’ because evangelicals had been heavily involved in politics in the 19th century (anti-slavery, Sunday closing laws, humane treatment of Native Americans, prohibition, public education, the Progressive Movement and government action against industrialization or raw-capitalism abuses, etc.).
  • The Secular Revolution (fueled by urbanization, modern science and technology, economic prosperity and intentional organized effort to displace the Protestant public ethos with a secular one) and rise of Protestant Liberalism on one hand combined with rise of Dispensationalism among most evangelicals (infatuation with end-times prophecy, pessimism about the last days, and the imminent return of Christ) caused many evangelicals to exit culture or politics and see it as unrelated to the church’s mission. In the 1950s and 1960s, Falwell said that a preacher would be judged by God for becoming involved in politics. They felt safe, however, in the South and rural parts of the country (still more numerous) even if elite centers turned secular. The paradigm shift was seen as happening somewhere else, not small-town America.
First stirrings prior to the 1970s – Democratic Party elected JFK (Catholic) in 1960; Barry Goldwater nominated as Republican 1964; George Wallace ran as an independent in 1968 (all of this weakened white evangelical tie to Dems).

So what caused the shift to the GOP and Rise of the New Christian Right (political reawakening)?

II. Rise of the New Christian Right (NCR): The Causes
  • Evangelicals began to climb the socio-economic ladder (1940-1960, white SBC averaged just under 8 years of formal education; by 1970 it was 11). With more money and education they acquired a new interest/stake in politics as well as more resources to engage it.
  • Theological divisions came first (then cleared up w/ divorces); the progressives vs the orthodox. Religious camps in the past were typically denominational; alliances across denominational boundaries were rare. But, in the 20th century, theological orthodoxy became the most important dividing line among the religious, not denomination. Traditional Catholics discovered they had more enemies within Catholic circles than among the evangelicals (same could be said of Protestants regarding their own denominations). In the 20th century, churches responded to theological liberalism by splitting off (PCA) or reforming from within (SBC). Today, what matters most in Protestantism is orthodox belief (evangelicalism), not church affiliation (sharing pulpits increasingly common; Falwell). These theological alliances provided the framework for future political alliances and organizations in the Christian Right (Pat Robertson - Charismatic, D. James Kennedy - Presbyterian, and Jerry Falwell - Baptist).
‘Status Politics’ and Emergence of Culture War issues, especially as partisan issues (that is, when parties and candidates took sides, religious views on culture war issues became divided not just theologically but now along party lines as well). Dramatic increases in and moral acceptance of teen pregnancy and births (% of births to unmarried teens grew from 15 to 70%), illegitimacy (5% 1960 to 40% today, much more dramatic for minorities with blacks, for example currently at 70% up from 22% in 1960), crime, pornography, # and rate of abortions (million a year), television content (Seinfeld’s “The Contest” vs The Andy Griffith cast), sexualization of youth culture/entertainment (and stat associated rise in promiscuity), working mothers, cohabitation, age and likelihood of marriage, ratio of divorces to marriages (.26 to .51), social acceptance of homosexuality, % children living with both married bio-parents (88 to 65), juvenile delinquency (17 per 1000 juveniles to 55); disintegration of traditional family; Supreme Court opinions involving abortion, secularization of public schools, school prayer, homosexual rights, creationism, sex education, suicide, gender indifferences, pornography and first amendment, etc. Read p. 108-109 of Brewer and Stonecash.
  • Media – The NCR drawing on its institutional base (churches), took advantage of technological advancements and opportunities (from radio and television to webcasts and satellite, “Justice Sunday”). 1000 of 9000 radio stations are religious.
Influenced by the approach of NeoEvangelicals (Carl Henry) and Reconstructionists (D. James Kennedy; Graham and Christianity Today) – prior to the 1970s, evangelicals largely believed (as good fundamentalists and dispensationalists) that this world did not matter much (‘so heavenly minded they’re of no earthly good’). In fact, things were going to get irreversibly worse just prior to Christ’s return (prophecy). The church should concern itself only with saving souls, not ‘worldly’ things like politics (weapons of our warfare are not carnal). But the NeoEvangelicals and Reconstructionists, for different reasons, successfully convinced the others that God commands Christians to be concerned with all fronts/spheres in God’s World and Christians must reject the division of human affairs into “sacred” and “secular” categories (Francis Schaeffer called the philosopher of the Christian Right – stretch though); rather the Lord is Lord over all (including politics; i.e., render unto Caesar; redeem the culture; kingdom work extends to politics; etc.). "When I was growing up," recalls Fundamentalist Pastor Keith Gephart of Alameda, Calif., "I always heard that churches should stay out of politics. Now it seems almost a sin not to get involved.“http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKUYqXOuNxM&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUMuUWpgokQ&feature=related (4:25 mark)

A giving people – evangelicals give money and time. They give lots of money and time. They give more money and time than other more casual religious & non-religious people. Not only do they give lots to their churches, but they give significantly more to other religious and non-religious non-profits (including charities and political interest groups) than others. They are more likely to believe they should and less likely to make excuses when they don’t than others. The NCR, with all of its fund-raising and group membership drives, have thrived on this.
  • Two Waves - first, occurring in the late 1970s, was at the top (in D.C.) with narrow lobbying groups; the GOP and DEM parties sort of took sides with Reagan speaking the language of evangelicals (Connerly vs Reagan answer to D. James Kennedy’s question); however, little success changing public policy during Reagan years. Second wave came after Pat Robertson’s failed presidential bid. Controlled by secular conservative strategists, featured grassroots mass membership organizations (Christian Coalition), different more inclusive/secular language and style (defending not Christian America but Family Values), and more inclusive of political conservative agenda rather than Biblical morality (not just anti-pornography and abortion but also for term limits, strong defense, and Balanced Budget Amendment, and tax cuts. Second wave far more successful as evidenced by Republican Revolution in 1994 and the Contract with America.
III. Who is the NCR?
  • Evangelicals, but disproportionately fundamentalist (fewer confessional and reformed folk). Historian George Marsden jokes, “A fundamentalist is an evangelical who is angry about something.” A fundamentalist, though no longer apolitical, is typically far more politically concerned about the moral behavior of non-believers than other evangelicals.
  • Groups – Started with the Moral Majority, then the Christian Coalition, now the American Family Association (but also, Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, Center for Reclaiming America, Alliance Defense Fund, Traditional Values Coalition, Concerned Women of America, Eagle Forum, etc.)
  • People – James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, D. James Kennedy, Tony Perkins, Chuck Colson, Phyllis Schaffley

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:

  • Less visible in the GOP – Many believe that the 1992 GOP convention hurt the Republicans because so many keynote speakers were NCR representatives (Pat Buchanan, Pat Robertson). Today, they are rarely allowed to speak at the GOP and the few that do have softened their rhetoric.
Focus a bit less on national elections and more on state and local political issues (gay marriage; abortion)
  • Has occasionally expanded its issue list, but this has been hard (why include lower taxes and immigration reform? Why exclude environmental policy?
  • Appears to be more “mainstream” and less organizational and peripheral inside the GOP.
  • A gradually growing group of evangelicals share the same values on cultural issues, vote GOP, but have more diverse views on other issues and do not like to be identified with the NCR. They would laugh at my Lord’s Prayer joke.

V. Assessing the success of the NCR

  • Some have argued that the NCR has been ineffective given its goals. Abortion is still legal, cultural change (“moral decline”) has only increased more rapidly, no significant number of evangelicals elected to major offices, GOP inaction in terms of policy priorities, DEM party liberalized even more after 2000. This has led many, including some of its earlier leaders and founders, to declare it a failure and seek alternative (non-political) solutions to perceived cultural problems (see books by Cal Thomas, “Blinded by Might” and David Kuo, “Tempting Faith”). Politics is ‘downstream’ from culture. Also, consider GOP candidates. Evangelical influence?
Internal Criticism remains – from its inception, some argued that Schaeffer’s original vision was never realized or embraced. The movement never really developed (or allowed themselves to be informed by) a coherent biblical worldview of all life FIRST. Rather, it simply became a lapdog of the GOP with no public theology worked out at all (Ready, Shoot, Aim! OR the God Says That Settles It approach). There was no intellectual-theological reformation among evangelicals, just a UNcaged-tiger knee-jerk reaction to cultural displacement and rise of secularism and liberalism. Basically, the internal critics (usually the Neoevangelical crowd) argue that unlike Catholicism and the Reformed and Confessional tradition, the Christian Right did not get the ‘cart before the horse’ (public theology before political activism). It exposed itself to and tasted political power without a firm theological basis and got ‘captured’, embarrassed, frustrated, scorned and mocked. It was merely floundering about with no underlying anchor.
  • Others point to GOP success (elections); evangelical voter mobilization for GOP, Supreme Court appointments, Democratic moderation in the 90s, return of faith in politics (Obama) and a few minor victories here and there as evidence of success. On the cultural front, a significant resurgence of the mind in evangelicalism and prominent evangelical scholarship; also, rise of major evangelical players among elite places of influence and power (White House, Harvard, Wall Street, Hollywood, etc.).
Religious Groups at the Center

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).

  • Mainline Protestants (14% of pop and falling) - their numbers are dwindling rapidly around the world.
  • Theological differences with evangelicals - disagree with evangelicals over a number of theological issues surfacing in the early 1900s from the ‘fundamentalist-modernist controversy’ (Bible IS the Word of God vs Bible CONTAINS the Word of God; Christ is the ONLY way vs ONE way; Primary mission of the church is evangelism vs Social Gospel or social reform). MP’s less likely to attend church weekly or engage in personal devotional activities.
Political differences – originally they were Republicans, but are conflicted today leaning DEM. They are somewhat more politically liberal (on issues) than evangelicals but comparable to Catholics (see Table 2.4 Wilson) and a bit more politically involved (probably goes with higher college education rates). The less observant MPs split their votes between Obama and McCain in 2008, but weekly attendees voted for McCain over Obama by 10points.
Religious Left (Liberals)

A. Theological differences with Mainline (the middle) and evangelicals (the right). Look at Table 3.3 in Wilson

  • Political differences – table 3.4; religious liberalism leads to political liberalism for this group
  • Potential for a New Christian Left? Difficult…
  • Theological disunity or incohesion - Principle difference between the Religious Right and Left: The Religious Right believes in objectively revealed Truth, the Religious Left does not. As a starting principle, the Religious Left accepts theologically the notion that Truth is not and can not be objectively known (except, perhaps, the tiny little group of evangelicals in it). If it is not objectively known and if everyone has their own version…
of it and if these versions must be equally weighted for pluralism’s sake (highest value), then how can a unified policy position, agenda, crusade ever be marked out? Pluralism trumps conviction and may leave the movement without a leg to stand on (NYT article). “We are a religious voice.” Okay, what does that voice say? Uh, I don’t know, I don’t want to speak for anyone or impose my values on others or say that someone else is wrong or that I am right…The NCR is united around a common authority, the scriptures (or a God who speaks infallibly). What authority unites the RL? Indeed, a theological tenet of liberalism is the rejection of any common objective authority in theology.

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.

Tension with seculars in DEM leadership and among activists. Number of seculars, atheists, agnostic, and other unaffiliated has increased dramatically over the last 30 years (roughly doubled from 8-16, though some dispute here). % of seculars in DEM party activists considerably higher. Modern liberals may say: have we not always insisted that religion should not be our guide/motive in politics?
  • Lack of religious influence over political ideology (Kohut reports that 31% of people cite religious beliefs as connected to their political conservatism, 6% connect it with political liberalism). This is especially true on the non-cultural or social issues like welfare.
These have led many strategists to suggest that Dems “give up” on the “Sunday vote” and be careful to solidify the left’s most loyal and promising constituent groups (racial minorities, the unmarried, especially unmarried women, the lowest on the socio-economic ladder, and seculars, atheists, and other unaffiliated). Somewhat parallel situation between the GOP and blacks.

B. Hope for it? Why?

  • African-Americans – no significant sign of changing loyalties. This group is the second most likely to cite religious beliefs as a motivating factor for their political preferences.
  • Mainliners are not necessarily a spent force in politics. They may be divided today politically (and theologically in terms of laity vs leadership), but they still represent a formidable potential religious political group with vast resources, a strong history of “social gospel” and political engagement (Walter Rauschenbusch), and an established institutional structure in place.
  • Catholics are not firmly in the GOP camp, even traditional ones. Their support for the GOP can hardly be considered unconditional. They are relatively new supporters and may change; GOP support for policies out of accord with Rome may lead Catholics back home (War, social services, death penalty, etc.).
roman catholics a useless label politically
Roman Catholics: A useless label politically?
  • Intro – a potentially significant voting bloc
  • 25% of electorate, but concentrated in swing states (midwestern)
  • Only had two major party nominees with one winner (Kerry and JFK)
  • Probably the hardest religious group to explain, at least in terms of religious factors (theology or practice); typically counter-intuitive these days
  • Drift towards the GOP since 1960s, but not due to Catholicism (weakening of Catholic identity as a useful tool in explaining Catholic political behavior)
  • Before, as late as 1960s, RCs exhibited group-based political behavior (behaved more uniformly, based on their shared group identity) and favored the Democratic party hands-down. They were part of the previous 1945 realignment where Dems had support of low SES folk as well as minorities of all kinds. Today, ideological preferences seem to trump group identity among Catholics. IN other words, they (Catholic whites) are behaving like non-Catholic whites and their political behavior can be explained similarly.
Political Behavior
  • Partisanship - Gap between Dems and GOP among Catholics in 1960s was 45 points; today it has vanished (Table 4.1). Only 30% of RCs identified as Dems in 2004 compared to 60% in 1960s.
  • Voting – Went from 83% JFK in 1960 to a bare majority bouncing around in recent cycles (Carter then Reagan; Clinton then Bush both times).
  • Comparison to non-Catholic whites? Since 1990s, roughly similar (slightly more w-RCs GOP than non-C whites).
  • Explaining RC political behavior
  • Socio-economic changes (began to look like non-C whites in terms of education/income/occupation); as they moved up, the upper-class tilt towards the GOP was more appealing. 1952 10% attended college; today 50% do.
  • Ideology – turns out that many w-RCs simply parroted what other whites were doing in the period (196-2000), finding a home for their ideology (mostly politically conservative) in the GOP. That is, they were driven by factors unassociated with their Catholicism but ideology (race, government spending and social welfare and taxes, anti-communism, etc.).
What about the ‘culture war’ that is supposed to explain white evangelical political behavior since the 1970s? Not so much, in fact, hardly at all. Religiosity does NOT appear to be a driving force behind RC political behavior these days (whether we are talking PID, voting, or policy preferences).
  • Who’s calling the shots? Rome? Is Rome calling the shots? Does not appear so. That is, their political preferences seem out of line with RC-Vatican social teachings.
  • Why less RC uniformity/control/influence over members?
  • Secularization of Catholics (table 4.2)
  • Vatican II or Changes in Vatican ecclesiology (p. 95)
  • Generational evidence (Pre-Vatican II; Vatican II; Post-Vatican II age cohorts); Table 4.4
B. Basically, Catholicism is not explaining w-RC political behavior much today.

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.

black protestants and latinos
Black (Protestants) and Latinos

“For many minority communities, it is difficult to separate religious culture from the culture of the minority group.” Kenneth Wald

I. African-American Protestants

  • Black churches
  • History: due to racial segregation, black churches and denominations were established separately from white ones. Theology was rarely the point of division.
  • Black freedom – Black church movement = first black freedom movement.
  • Became medium for civil society in the black community (absence of other viable institutions). Many secular activities were facilitated through black churches as a result (e.g., taxes, voter registration, publishing, funeral arrangements, entertainment events)
  • Religion as basis for cultural cohesion – “The black church” refers to hundreds of disparate administratively, but largely united informally, organizations.
Political Activism – unlike white evangelicals in the later 19th and early 20th century (Great Reversal), black Protestants have a long tradition of viewing faith and church as vehicles of political and social change (e.g., MLK and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; Question: should he/they have been rebuked for mixing faith and politics?), even though like most white evangelical denominations they largely abandoned any underlying theological work in favor of atheological revivalism in the early 19th century. But a common thread throughout it’s history are polemical parallels drawm between the Hebrew Exodus and Christ as deliverer and American slavery/racial discrimination (Lincoln a ‘type’ of Christ in the same way Moses was) as well as the doctrine of Christian equality before God (In Christ there is neither slave nor free, greek nor jew…from every tribe tongue and nation…). So you hear this in the political sermons of many Civil Rights ministers “I have seen the promised land…” and “Go tell it on the mountain, let my people go…” and “I have a dream…”
  • Political behavior - Black voting since the end of mandatory racial segregation and the Civil Rights act has reflected this unity.
  • Turnout - Frequent black churchgoers are more likely to vote than others (same as non-blacks). Their #’s only slightly less than whites.
  • Explaining the political effectiveness of Black churches:
Church environment = platform for political learning. Unique historical position; high esteem extended to ministers (Hattiesburg signs); unabashedly political polemically; site for direct and indirect political networking.
  • Source for fostering social capital – churches foster the development of interpersonal trust, access to networks, beliefs about community responsibility (applies to churches in general).
  • AA church culture has always been theologically politically engaged – prayer, song, dialogue, rituals, and Christian imagery. This group of religious adherents are more likely than any other to have and attend church meetings about politics.
  • Political liberalism – interesting contrast with Mormons. BP’s are theologically orthodox in beliefs but politically liberal. Mormons not theologically orthodox, but politically conservative. BPs are mostly conservative, like white evangelicals, on moral-cultural issues (e.g., gay marriage; school prayer, etc.), but nothing else (even slippage here regarding abortion). PID: Blacks are the most reliable voting bloc in America (favoring Dems); again largely facilitated by the church, especially in the south (half of all AAs live in the South). Significant surge when Jesse Jackson ran in 1984 & 88. In 2004, over 65% identify as DEM and over 90% voted for Kerry).
Common to have Dem candidates visit black churches due to their dependence upon the black vote. If the GOP suddenly received 20% of the black vote, they would virtually always win the White House (10% would usually do).
  • Changes in Black-Protestant politics?
  • Frustration with perceived limited progress (we are a “tool” of the Dem Party). Always has been an element calling for more aggression and independence politically (Malcom X, Black Panthers, Nation of Islam). the Dem Party takes AAs for granted, not enacting the legislation they usually promote (in other words, there is a challenge in influencing election outcomes and policy outcomes).
  • Radical vs conservative revolution.
  • Church attendance among AAs dropping significantly (formerly 80% down to under 40%), especially among young, men, and poor.
  • Takeover of secular political leaders in politics (ministers no longer monopolize political power; link between black voters and politicians less and less mediated by black ministers)
4. Nature of black church has changed - increasingly caught up in the larger charismatic/Pentecostal and prosperity gospel movement which is more apolitical (e.g., TD Jakes); now 15-20% of AAs are no longer members of BP churches; many are joining racially mixed churches, with white churches far more welcoming than decades ago.
  • Black Public Theology – (p. 134-135 Wilson). To fill the void (much in the same way Neoevangelicals did in the 1940s), two movements emerged.
  • Black Liberation Theology – God has a unique relationship with African Americans (James Cone “Black Power is the gospel of Jesus Christ”). Read Cleage p. 137 in Wilson. BLT was a kind of bridge between the black identity, radical, separationist Islamic movement of Malcolm X with the Christian social gospel movement of MLK Jr. Also, it was a reversal of sorts of white-supremacy religious beliefs among some white ‘Christians’.
In BLT, the emphasis is NOT Christas God (virgin birth, substitutionary atonement, resurrection, Son, etc.; these are seen as unhelpful ‘white’ holdover doctrines that must be jettisoned by black Christians); it is Christ asblack liberator (leader of a movement to radically reverse fortunes in society between oppressor and oppressed). This movement is identified with the broader liberal Protestant theology stressing this world only and most importantly, the notion that Christianity is utterly malleable adaptable and meant to be finally interpreted by the individual adherent or group; it is not a fixed body of truths laid down in propositional form by God Himself, Christ Himself and His apostles and prophets once for all time; the ‘faith delivered once for all’ Jude). It is also a blending of Marxist themes/ideas with theological themes. BLT has largely failed at attracting BPs.

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

If BLT teaches that blacks will obtain radical progress through social and political revolution, PG teaches they will get it through radical faith actions (planting ‘seeds’) and spiritual empowerment (Holy Ghost work). But they both deemphasize traditional Christian doctrines and concerns and focus on the immediate physical needs (or wants) of people. Another major point of departure, the BLT movement is decidedly socialist and politically liberal in orientation (Obama’s church); but the PG movement (at least the leadership) is far less committed to the Dem party and often explicitly supportive of the GOP (Fred Price Crenshaw 16000 member church). Read Wilson p. 159. Could be an ‘new’ opportunity for the GOP (something other than reaching out with culture war issues)
  • Latinos

A. Changing demographic dynamic among RCs (next slide)

age and racial composition of catholicism
Age and Racial Composition of Catholicism

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

B Catholicism among Latinos (4.5% total pop and 60% of Latinos). The Spanish conquistadores brought its Catholicism and its language to the Americas in the 16thC. Latino Catholics immigrated to North America prior to the Puritans. Emphasize Catholic Marion doctrines and family a bit more than other Catholics. But…
  • Many others are cold towards Catholicism; associate it with historical conquest; lack of Spanish-speaking masses; American Catholicism has been associated with Irish immigrants; have been relatively few Hispanic Catholic bishops here and abroad; first Mexican-American bishop installed in 1970; religious focus different among Latino Catholics and Euro-American Catholics
  • Defections and declining replacement: % of Latino Catholics is falling (despite Catholic growth among other people groups).

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.

Latino faith and politics – far less likely to see or use church as a vehicle for political action (more likely to set up secular political organizations for that; church deals more with the strictly spiritual). But some see political potential among Latinos because of its population growth in America (37m, 150% growth since 1980). More likely than blacks to disapprove of churches expressing political views.

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%).

2. For the DEMs: More Latino Catholics are Democrats (45%) but most voted for Kerry (56%); but among the “most committed” to religion and evangelical these numbers fall dramatically; Latino Protestants are more likely to identify than Catholics to be Republican. Latinos are generally more liberal on “non-morality” issues like government social services spending, especially as income goes down; So, it would be good politically for DEMs if Latinos got poorer, less religious or more nominally Catholic, and turned out more in elections.
  • Are Latino politics driven by ethnicity or faith?
  • Issues (Wilson 177): Really hard to say, but Latinos are divided along religious lines (secular, Catholic, Protestant) on a few issues.
  • Party/Vote – at least in 2004, Latino Protestants were significantly more likely to be Republican or vote that way than Latino Catholics (40% more likely to be GOP). In fact, Latinos increased their support for Bush in 2004 by over 30pts and this change was due almost entirely due to Latino Protestant movement.

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).

American Jews
  • The Jews – 2% of population; monotheistic with the Torah (OT) as their sacred text. Central religious figure = Moses.
  • Political Characteristics of Jews
  • Demographically well-off
  • Disproportionately influential/represented in culture: in law, business, politics, journalism, and entertainment. High voting rates, concentrated in heavily populated states.
  • Politically liberal – liberalism is often seen as the essence of Judaism itself, though this view is controversial given the conservatism of orthodox Jews. Most scholars see liberalism (and attachment to the Democratic party) as not necessarily theologically driven, but a byproduct of history (minority status and target of bigotry; i.e., anti-Semitism). Jews sought protection from pro-minority rights groups, not social services directed to the poor (not many Jews represented here). Strong alliance in the 1950s and 60s between blacks and Jews (Jewish CR workers massively overrepresented in the movement).
  • Voting results – 2008 election 74% Obama
4. Jewish Liberalism has been threatened by (1) Estrangement between blacks and Jews when blacks moved to urban centers and favored “community control” challenging Jewish statuses (got violent in NYC) and Affirmative-Action became a national issue not always favored by Jews. (2) The pro-Israel position became associated with the GOP. (3) the Neoconservative movement and culture war. The Neoconservatives (group of former liberals turned conservative on many issues) in their publications Commentary and Public Interest (Irving Kristol, Normon Podhertz, and today Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, David Horowitz) urged Jews to leave political liberalism because Dems were weak on Israel and soft on communism, pushing Aff-Action, creating cyclically dependent impoverished groups, and pushing values that were inconsistent with the Torah. Further, Jesse Jackson did not help when he referred to Jews as ‘Hymies’ and NYC as ‘Hymietown’; also Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam described Judaism as a ‘dirty’ religion. Both men were seen befriending PLO leader Yasir Arafat and supporting a Palestinian state (fed perceived rebirth of black anti-Semitism). BUT, short-lived after Carter failed to get a majority. Gap between Dem support between Jews and non-Jews rose from 20% in 1984 to over 40% today (perhaps more afraid of evangelical Republicans like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell than black Dems like Jesse Jackson).
Why the fear of EP Republicans? Historical discrimination by “Christian government” against Jews. The Christian Right seemed to be anti-democratic and anti-pluralistic to Jews. But…Dispensationalism?
  • 3 groupings: Reform (39%); Conservative (33%); Orthodox (21%; most traditional).
  • Religious Characteristics
  • Synagogue attendance very low (less than 25% once a month).
  • Label is increasingly an ethnic identity more than indicating a religious practice
  • Increasingly secular in worldview
  • Losing culturally distinctive identity (especially among young)
  • Intermarriage growing (50% today) and birthrates lower than necessary to replace population
  • Political ideology and Judaism
  • Theological liberalism dominates Judaism today (3/4s either Reform or Conservative). Theology of “deeds not creeds” such that Atheism or Agnosticism is theoretically and practically tenable in much of Jewish thought. Reform Judaism more or less approximates the secular enlightenment philosophy.
History of persecution – fostered concern for religious minorities and other disadvantaged groups.
  • Orthodox are the most Politically Conservative
  • Ultraconservative Jews (like Hasidic Jews) hold politically conservative views on cultural and social issues. However, this group often practices withdrawal much like the fundamentalist Protestants in years past, so the GOP benefits of Orthodox Judaism is waning if it ever existed due to secularization of Jews today 29% of young non-o Jews rate Israel high on their priority list compared to 60 of older non-o Jews). Seems younger Jews care far less about Israel today because they care far less about Judaism today (increasingly being reduced to an ethnic label, not a traditional religious commitment).
  • Was and is prominent among the “NeoConservatives” (Irving Kristol, Norman Podhoretz, Gertrude Himmelfarb, Bill Kristol, and David Horowitz; Weekly Standard).
  • American Jews and Israel – has connected Jews to American conservatism quite frequently.
  • U.S. is a strong ally of Israel and the GOP is consistently seen as Israel’s strongest supporters
Dispensational Theology among Protestants – according to DT, Christians (really everyone) are commanded to be especially kind towards and protective of the Jews as God’s chosen people. Pastor John Hagee and the “Christian Zionist” movement calls for the U.S. and Christ’s church, as instruments of God’s prophetic fulfillment of land promises to Israel found in the OT, to tenaciously defend and fight against Israel’s enemies and protect her as the place where Christ will one day occupy the throne of David in Jerusalem to re-establish his earthly kingdom. But despite many cases of affinity between evangelical leaders and grateful Jewish ones, the specter of necessaryconversion still haunts this relationship. Quick side: Christian theologians have disagreed on what to make of Jews in the New Covenant age (after Christ’s death and resurrection). Is there still a divine plan targeting Jewish people and Israel or is there now only one people of God with no particular ongoing divine interest Jews? At the extremes are so called ‘dual covenant’ (two people; two salvific plans) and ‘replacement’ theologies (the church simply replaced Israel when Christ came; ethnic Israel/Judaism is no longer a meaningful category in God’s mind).
  • The American Israeli Public Affairs Committee is among the top five most powerful lobbies in D.C.
From the Jerusalem Post (orthodox Jewish newspaper):

“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.

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjMRgT5o-Ig

church of jesus christ of latter day saints lds or mormons
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS or Mormons)
  • LDS Church
  • Who? 3% (4-6million); nearly all white; much higher levels of church attendance/activity than others; fastest growing religious group; heavily concentrated geographically in Utah (70%) and a few other Mountain West states (Idaho 27%)
  • History: established in 1830 by Joseph Smith, who claimed to have receive revelation from the angel Moroni (and “golden plates” were buried near his NY home, the information of which translated into the Book of Mormon (book of beliefs and historical claims, written by various men; teaches that ancient Israelite prophets – ancestors of Native Americans – sailed to the Americas from Jerusalem in 600bc foretelling the coming of the Messiah; Christ came to them and gave them a “second testimony” after His resurrection and ascension; one of 4 inspired books in Mormon theology; Bible, Pearl of Great Price, Doctrine and Covenants). Mormons taught the concept of ‘unified just communities; and set these up as they migrated to Utah in the 19th century, Smith, killed 1844, replaced by B. Young.
Basic Beliefs – God is a physical man who achieve deity through righteous living (model for man). He and his wife produced spirit offspring who later came to earth in human form in order to be more like God (imitation). Their inability to do so perfectly prompted God to send Jesus Christ, our eldest brother, to suffer for their sins; world rejected the his gospel and church fell away from truth shortly after his ascension, his church was “restored” in 1830; full salvation is achieved through faith, repentance, obedience to God, baptism, receipt of the Holy Ghost; all spirit children will return to God (‘Heavenly Father’) at judgment with varying degrees of reward/punishment. Zion is the New Jerusalem, a future place in America (Independence, MO), where Christ will return and rule in person as the former tribes of Israel reunite; prophets and apostles still hear from God within the context of the LDS leadership (President); very slow small minority trend today is towards inclusivism and even universal salvation; less dogmatic on sacred text than before.
Most controversial historically: polygamy (officially discontinued in 1890); baptism of the dead; limiting priesthood to white men only (ended in 1978)

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.

E. Mormons and Politics today – extremely politically cohesive religious group (85% vote GOP; more supportive of GOP than evangelicals; second only to blacks as the most loyal partisan coalition); dominate business, news media, and politics in Utah where 80% state legislators are Mormon; claim 16 congressional seats plus other key political figures like Sen Orrin Hatch, Senate majority leader Harry Ried, 2008 GOP primary contender Mitt Romney. “Strict church” (i.e., highly active religious life 0 tithing, hours per week in church meetings, volunteerism, large families, dietary restrictions, extensive church regulation/discipline – ‘temple permits’ and excommunication are significant carrots and sticks; these coupled with necessary obedience to the head of the LDS church (President) produces great cohesion, political cohesion too, and potential for member mobilization on anything (from natural disasters to referenda – like gay marriage votes). Wilson calls this “dry-kindling” capacity unlike other groups (evangelicals and Catholics). BUT LDS leaders rarely use it (kind of a reserved right). LDS tend to be culturally conservative on cultural issues (more conservative on gender roles, abortion, gay marriage than evangelicals), but a bit less than evangelicals on ‘non-morality’ issues). Though members are heavily GOP in behavior, the church is FAR LESS explicitly political or attached to political entities like parties (unlike the Christian Right and evangelicals and Catholics in general, who hear more political messages at church than Mormons). Recently, the LDS church voted to support anti-discrimination policies in Utah protecting gays.


Case in point – 2000 primary election, LDS Church leaders decided to make two announcements to their members concerning the initiative to ban gay marriage or Prop 22 (1. letter explaining LDS position; 2. letter encouraging Mormons to become active with time and money). Results, tremendous immediate mobilized and organized anti-gay marriage movement in CA.
  • Constraints on Mormon political influence – same as before regarding theology (seen as a ‘cult’ by many Christians); plus they are geographically constrained. Will evangelicals support Romney?
  • Political irony between LDS and Evangelicals/Catholics – the LDS is rigidly hierarchical in church government like Catholics (Pope – Prophet; Teaching Magisterium – General Authorities; Dioceses – Stakes; Churches – Wards). The RC is less politically neutral (at the top) as well. BUT, the RC does not create the political grassroots activity and consistent cohesion that the LDS church does (probably due to lack of voluntarism, strict church, and church activity which gives rise to political activism among RC). On the other hand, the Christian Right and evangelical leaders expend great efforts to mobilize voters, but it is far less able to do so (in as dependable, sustained, reliable, cohesive manner) as LDS leaders do because it lacks the single centralized authority structure (there is not evangelical ‘church’). (Story of LDS pres Sith speaking with Truman about getting food/supplies on the ground in post-WWII Europe. Truly an unmatched Relief Society – doctrine to store up one year’s worth of food for end times.)
american muslims and islam
American Muslims and Islam

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)

  • Very diverse (American Islam is second only to Mecca in diversity). Of Muslim immigrants, 24% come from Arab region, 26% come from Pakistan, Iran, and other South Asia, rest come from throughout the world). Of native-born (35% of total Muslim pop), 20% are African-American and 15% are other; also of Native-born, 21% are converts compared to 14% born Muslim.
  • Demographics and attitudes – middle class (socioeconomically) and mainstream. Here we see the difference in American Muslims compared to those around the world (sometimes a distinction is drawn between ‘Islamists’ and ‘Muslims’). A much higher percent of Muslims here give responses closer to the mainstream opinion of other Americans compared to Muslims in Europe and Middle-East (they are wealthier, only a minority think of themselves as “Muslims first,” larger majorities consider life to be good here for women, and larger shares, though a bare majority, are concerned about and condemning of Islamic extremism.” Only 1% American Muslims say suicide bombings against civilians are justified for sake of Islam, higher percentages say they are justified in Europe. Very little favor of Al Qaeda (5%) compared to European Muslims.
Political views:
  • 9/11 impact: 53% Muslims say life is harder since 9/11, though only 25% report discrimination.
  • War on Terror: There is strong opposition to the War in Iraq, half disagree with war in Afghanistan, and over half do not consider the War on Terror a ‘sincere effort’ among Muslims compared to the general population (split on Iraq, strong majorities on Afghan and Terror wars).
  • Though 47% of American Muslims say they are Muslim first before American, 60% of young Muslims say so (42% of Christians say they are Christian first). Of high commitment Muslims, 70% say Muslim first (59% for Christian counterparts).
  • Only 11% favor the GOP compared to 51% favoring the Dems (71% voted for Kerry, but 89% voting for Obama).
  • About as many (49%) of American Muslims want Mosques to stay apolitical compared to 43% who say they should not (for Christians, this number is almost exactly flipped).
  • Interestingly, by a large margin more foreign and native born Muslims than African-American Muslims say that immigrant Muslims should try to assimilate (47% of AAs say don’t).
Islam (brief history and beliefs)
  • History – Mohammed, the central figure in Islam, lived in the late 6th and early 7th century in and near Mecca; claimed to have received revelation from Allah (via the angel Gabriel) throughout his life; his sermons and teachings are set down in the Quran (Islamic sacred text); won enough converts through preaching and conquest of nearby cities to eventually make all the Arabian peninsula Islamic
  • Theology – One God; many prophets (Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Mohammed); God created angels (some good some evil); The Qur’an is the final revelation of God (the Hadith is another holy book but of lesser authority); Judgment is coming (heaven and hell) and is based on unquestioned obedience to Allah and his prophet Mohammed. To be a Muslim (or remain so), one must confess “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger”; pray five times a day; fast through the ninth lunar month of Ramadan; give alms to the needy (1/40 of income); Make trip to Mecca in one’s lifetime. Some include a 6th “pillar” of Jihad (various interpretations)
  • Two broad divisions: Shi’ite (Shia) and Sunni are divided originally over who the appropriate successor to Mohammed is.

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).

Iran (90%) as well as Hezbollah (a militant hardcore Islamic party/paramilitary group in Lebanon calling for the extermination of Israel); 2003 Iraqi elections/constitution favored by Shia.
  • Sunni, larger of the two, recognize the first four Caliphs and the means of selecting them as appropriate (election). Sunni are a slight minority but was most dominate force in Iraq (Hussein was Sunni); Al Queda is Sunni too; Taliban & most of Afghanistan are Sunni (80%).
C. Islam in American Society/Politics – 40% Black Muslim (historically separatist); 25% South Asian (India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh); 12% Arab
  • Fear among many in the West (much less so here) is that Muslims will engage politics with the purpose of enacting/enforcing Sharia Law or a Caliphate (Islamic law regulating everything from religious practice to crime control to foreign affairs to daily dress). Clearly advocated by sizable Islamic groups in Europe, but not as much here. Kenneth Wald notes the difference in America between ‘Muslims’ and ‘Islamists’ (Islamists are the minority favoring immediate enforcement of Sharia law).

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)

  • Prospects for an effective Muslim political movement are
ambiguous. Must deal with ethnic differences brought from abroad; modernity or secular appeal of modernity in America as well as the distinct Black Muslim movement in America; relations to Jews, view of women, etc. May have been united around the War, but no clear common political agenda outside it.
  • Nation of Islam: Rise and Decline
  • Islam in America has been around as long as there have been slaves in America (15-20% of African slaves were probably Muslim). Most of these converted to something else (for many reasons).
  • Resurgence in the 20th century: The Honorable Elijah Muhammed and the Nation of Islam (1930s).
  • Set up as a separatist alternative to Christianity (“white man’s religion”), which was blamed as a tool for white racism.
  • Nationalistic, typically calling for a separate society for black people where the principles of Islam would govern.
  • Rose in influence during the Black Nationalist, Black Power, movements in the 1960s and featured Malcolm X.
  • Controversy put the movement on the back burner when internal corruption charges surfaced concerning Elijah Muhammed, and when Malcolm X returned from a pilgrim trip to Mecca and argued that the Nation of Islam was a departure from orthodox Islam, especially concerning racial separatism.
5. When Elijah Muhammed died, N of I split into two factions (most following his son who was more mainstream and less separatist – called American Society of Muslims). But another group/person has been the most visible/vocal face of the Nation of Islam.

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.

secularists antifundamentalists the new atheists
Secularists, AntiFundamentalists, The New Atheists
  • Seculars – as there are different types of worldviews among theists, there are different kinds of worldviews among secularists as well…but generally…
  • Basic beliefs
  • Ultimate reality – all we “know” is that the material world exists, so we must function as such.
  • Truth – combination of science or reason and personal judgment gives us our sense of truth; typically some form of evidentialism (faith is belief in the absence of evidence OR no one should believe anything without empircal evidence).
  • Ethics – Self-referential or subjectively determined; morality is relative to person, time, place, culture
  • Destiny – either a meaningless future of non-existence (nihilism) or a triumphant age of human progress/victory over war, disease, poverty (humanism).
  • Man’s basic problem – cultural institutions that impede the progress/freedom of the individual (could be capitalism, marriage, social norms, government, but certainly religion).

John Lennon - Imagine

B. Defined perhaps more by what they are not (Read Reich p. 19 in Hunter Baker’s book)

Historical origins – fullest articulation came during the secular Enlightenment (17th and 18th centuries) and late 19th Darwinian philosophies about how the world works.
  • Profile of American seculars – 14% of pop, up from 10 50 years ago, though number of “unaffiliated” has doubled from 8 to 16% today; 48% of seculars under 35; a bit more with college education (15%); income same as other groups, except above $150k)
  • Rise of the Secular Left or Antifundamentalists in American politics

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.

Some social scientists also began to publicize the view that fundamentalists were threats to democratic society.
  • Before 1980s, despite these strong views and conflicts in the culture, fundamentalist and antifundamentalist views & disagreements WERE NOT yet contextualized in politically meaningful ways (i.e., no partisan animus; similar to what was happening in the Christian church prior to the 1970s). It would take a religious realignment (rise of Christian Right) before “a negative cultural referent became a full-blown political referent to secularists and other anti-fundamentalists). Until then, both parties were dominated by those accepting a basic Judeo-Christian ethic regarding authority, sexuality, and the family.
  • Culture War between the Parties?
  • Growing Secular prominence in the Democratic Party – 1992 first time white delegates to Dem convention twice as likely to identify as irreligious as GOP counterparts.
  • 1992 convention, GOP delegates reserved their “coolest” attitudes towards feminists, environmentalists, and pro-choicers (over unionists, liberals, Democratis, blacks, Hispanics, etc.). By contrast, Dems reserved their coolest attitudes towards one group, Christian fundamentalists (more than half Dem delegates gave them a 0 out of hundred).
Culture War in the Electorate?
  • Electorate divided into three groups: Traditionalists (19), Seculars (12%), and religious moderates (69%).
  • Traditional – regular prayer/church attendance, accepted Bible as divine and authoritative, religion = important guide for them.
  • Secular – no scriptural authority, no prayer/church attendance, no religious guidance in life, no affiliation.

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.