Faith in Politics

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Brookings Institution Press, May 26, 2004 - Religion - 420 pages

According to current polls, about 85 percent of Americans identify with some religious faith and more than 40 percent say they attend religious services at least once a week. In recent years, religious observance—and even religious belief—have become important factors influencing voter choice. Active participation in electoral politics by some religious groups has fueled apprehensions that the traditional separation of church and state may be threatened. A. James Reichley explores the questions and conflicting positions surrounding the relations between government and politics in a new book that draws upon his landmark work, Religion in American Public Life. In Faith in Politics, Reichley explores the history of religion in American public life, and considers some practical and philosophic questions affecting future participation by religious groups in the formation of public policy. Reichley begins by examining the various attitudes and points of view of strict separationists, liberal social activists, moderate accommodationists, and direct interventionists. He goes on to discuss the way religion and politics relate to each other through a theoretic structure of seven value systems: monism, absolutism, ecstacism, egoism, collectivism, civil humanism, and transcendent idealism. Further chapters examine the trends and constitutional arrangements that developed during the formative years of the American Republic; the evolution of judicial interpretations of the free exercise and establishment clauses; and the history of church involvement in politics from the early years of the Republic to the 2000 election and the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks. A chapter covering events and developments from 1986 to 2002 includes accounts of political activism by the African American church, ideological divisions among Roman Catholics, Jewish liberalism and commitment to Israel, the rise and decline of the religious right, and political differences among mainline Protestants. Finally, Reichley confronts the question of whether a free society depends ultimately on religious values for cohesion and vindication of human rights.

 

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Contents

Religion and the Industrial Age
193
The New Deal Coalition
208
Time of Turmoil 1964 to 1985
231
The Churches Come to Washington
232
The Religious New Left
243
Mainline Protestants in Crisis
250
Black Activism
265
Catholics in Ferment
268

Absolutism
27
Ecstasism
36
Civil Humanism
41
Transcendent Idealism
47
Intentions of the Founders
53
City on a Hill
54
Degrees of Diversity
73
The American Enlightenment
84
A New Nation
94
A Interpreting the First Amendment
113
A New Doctrine of Rights
114
The Free Exercise Clause
124
The Establishment Clause
131
Religious Freedom
156
Religion and Political Action 1790 to 1963
159
A Pluralist Society
161
First Alignment
168
An Immigrant Church
172
The Party of Conscience
178
The Jewish Dilemma
282
Revolt of the Evangelicals
289
Prophetic Realism
303
Faith in Action 1986 to 2002
309
Challenging Marginality
310
Diverging Catholics
314
Still Liberal Jews
323
Change and Continuity on the Religious Right
329
The Protestant Ethic
336
The Values Election
343
A New Beginning?
345
Religion and Democracy
351
The Moral Foundation of Democracy
352
The Role of Organized Religion
359
A Religious People
365
Notes
367
Index
407
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About the author (2004)

A. James Reichley is the author of The Values Connection (Rowman & Littlefield, 2001), The Life of the Parties (Rowman & Littlefield, 2000), Religion in American Public Life (Brookings, 1985), and Conservatives in an Age of Change (Brookings, 1981). He is a senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of Georgetown University.

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