Religion in American Politics : A Short History

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2/21/2010
  • Publisher: Princeton Univ Pr

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The delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention blocked the establishment of Christianity as a national religion. But they could not keep religion out of American politics. From the election of 1800, when Federalist clergymen charged that deist Thomas Jefferson was unfit to lead a "Christian nation," to today, when some Democrats want to embrace the so-called Religious Left in order to compete with the Republicans and the Religious Right, religion has always been part of American politics. InReligion in American Politics, Frank Lambert tells the fascinating story of the uneasy relations between religion and politics from the founding to the twenty-first century. Lambert examines how antebellum Protestant unity was challenged by sectionalism as both North and South invoked religious justification; how Andrew Carnegie's "Gospel of Wealth" competed with the anticapitalist "Social Gospel" during postwar industrialization; how the civil rights movement was perhaps the most effective religious intervention in politics in American history; and how the alliance between the Republican Party and the Religious Right has, in many ways, realized the founders' fears of religious-political electoral coalitions. In these and other cases, Lambert shows that religion became sectarian and partisan whenever it entered the political fray, and that religious agendas have always mixed with nonreligious ones. Religion in American Politicsbrings rare historical perspective and insight to a subject that was just as important--and controversial--in 1776 as it is today.

Author Biography

Frank Lambert is professor of history at Purdue University. His books include The Barbary Wars, a New York Times Editors' Choice; The Founding Fathers and the Place of Religion in America; and Inventing the "Great Awakening."

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. 1
Providential and Secular America: Founding the Republicp. 14
Elusive Protestant Unity: Sunday Mails, Catholic Immigration, and Sectional Divisionp. 41
The "Gospel of Wealth" and the "Social Gospel": Industrialization and the Rise of Corporate Americap. 74
Faith and Science: The Modernist-Fundamentalist Controversyp. 104
Religious and Political Liberalism: The Rise of Big Government from the New Deal to the Cold Warp. 130
Civil Rights as a Religious Movement: Politics in the Streetsp. 160
The Rise of the "Religious Right": The Reagan Revolution and the "Moral Majority"p. 184
Reemergence of the "Religious Left"? America's Culture War in the Early Twenty-first Centuryp. 218
Notesp. 251
Indexp. 271
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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