The Great Divide: Religious and Cultural Conflict in American Party Politics

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Columbia University Press, 2001 - Political Science - 435 pages

How did the Christian Right come to predominate in the Republican Party? Why, on the other hand, do secular and religiously liberal beliefs largely prevail in the Democratic Party? Our understanding of the rift between the Democratic and Republican parties -- a rift in many ways fueled by religious beliefs -- requires an analysis of the entire spectrum of religious and nonreligious players in the American political process and how their influence has evolved over a long period of time.

Employing a sizeable collection of data on party members, activists, and elites, Geoffrey Layman examines the role of religion in the Democratic and Republican parties, and the ways in which religion has influenced the political process from the early 1960s through the late 1990s. Using a wide variety of sources, including the American National Election Studies -- the major academic survey of the American electorate -- Layman reveals a vast and subtly differentiated landscape of political life and a more vivid basis upon which to analyze the ever-widening chasm between the parties.

Layman investigates a broad spectrum of religious variety, citing differences between African American Protestants, white evangelical Protestants, Roman Catholics, Jews, nonreligious or seculars, and smaller religious groups, as well as political cleavages within these faith traditions. With his broad-based and thorough analysis, he counters the often narrow focus and incendiary rhetoric of many of the "culture war" debates.


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Cultural Conflict in American Society
Explaining Religious and Cultural Change
Conceptualizing Religion and ReligionBased
Religious and Cultural Change Among Party
The Changing Religious Face of the Parties
The Structure and Sequence
How and When Religion
APPENDIX A Measurement
APPENDIX B Statistical Analyses
Congressional Votes on Cultural Issues

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About the author (2001)

Geoffrey Layman is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at Vanderbilt University. He has published numerous articles on religion and American politics in such journals as Political Behavior, American Politics Quarterly, Political Research Quarterly, Journal of Politics, and Public Opinion Quarterly.

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