America's clergy are not just religious leaders. Their influence extends far beyond church doors. Houses of worship stand at the center of American civic life-one of the few spheres in which relatively diverse individuals gather together regularly. And the moral authority granted to pastors means that they are uniquely positioned to play a role in public debates.
Based on data gathered through national surveys of clergy across four mainline Protestant (the Disciples of Christ; the Presbyterian Church, USA; the Reformed Church in America; and the United Methodist Church) and three evangelical Protestant denominations (the Assemblies of God; the Christian Reformed Church; and, the Southern Baptist Convention), Pastors and Public Life examines the changing sociological, theological, and political characteristics of American Protestant clergy over the past twenty-plus years. Smidt focuses on the relationship between clergy and politics-clergy positions on issues of American public policy, norms on what is appropriate for clergy to do politically, as well as the clergy's political cue-giving, their pronouncements on public policy, and political activism-and the impact these changes have on congregations and on American society as a whole.
Pastors and Public Life is the first book to systematically examine such changes and continuity over time. It will be invaluable to scholars, students, pastors, and churchgoers.