Religion and American Politics: Classic and Contemporary Perspectives

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2010-07-21
  • Publisher: Routledge

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This comprehensive text incorporates both original content from leading scholars and excerpts from classic and contemporary writings that will help students explore connections between religion and political culture, movements, institutions, and actors. Together, the collection of readings offers a broad and diverse overview of central debates about religionrs"s influence on American political history, political life, governing institutions, and public policy.

Author Biography

Dr. Amy E. Black is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Politics & International Relations at Wheaton College (IL). She is the author of Beyond Left and Right (Baker Books, 2008), From Inspiration to Legislation: How an Idea Becomes a Law (Prentice Hall, 2007), and, with Douglas Koopman and David Ryden, Of Little Faith: The Politics of George W. Bush’s Faith Based Initiatives (Georgetown University Press, 2004) as well as book chapters and journal articles on political communication, presidential initiatives, women in politics, and religious political engagement.  In 2000-2001, Dr. Black served as an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow.


Dr. Douglas L. Koopman is Professor of Political Science at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Koopman has been the program director of Calvin’s Paul B. Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity and Politics, interim director of its Center for Social Research, the college’s William Spoelhof Teacher-Scholar-in-Residence, and, at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, the founding director of Hope’s Center for Faithful Leadership.  He is the author of Hostile Takeover: The House Republican Party, 1980-1995 (Rowman and Littlefield, 1996).  He is also co-author of three books: with Amy E. Black and David Ryden, Of Little Faith: The Politics of George W. Bush’s Faith Based Initiatives (Georgetown University Press, 2004), and with Corwin Smidt et al, Pews, Prayers, and Participation: Religion and Civic Responsibility in America (Georgetown, 2008) and The Disappearing God Gap? Religion in the 2008 Presidential Election (Oxford  2009), as well as other articles on the U.S. Congress, political parties, social policy and law, and religious faith in politics.  From 1980 to 1995, Koopman worked in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate in personal, committee, and leadership staff roles. 


Dr. Larycia A. Hawkins is Assistant Professor of Politics & International Relations at Wheaton College (IL). She is the author of “Religion, Race, and Rhetoric: The Black Church, Interest Groups, and Charitable Choice” in Religion, Politics, and the American Experience (Lexington Books, 2006) and “A Live Wire? The Politics of Electricity Deregulation in Oklahoma” (Oklahoma Policy Studies Review, 2002).  Dr. Hawkins served as a fellow of the Governing in a Global Era program at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs and as a Civitas Fellow at the Center for Public Justice.


Table of Contents



Part One:  Religion in the United States:  Historical Legacies

Chapter 1: Our Mainstream Religious Heritage: Colonial Era to the American Revolution      



Integrative Essay:

1.1       John Witte, Jr.  A Four-Cornered Canopy.


Research Pieces:

1.2       David L. Holmes. 2006. The Faiths of the Founding Fathers.

1.3       Andrew R. Murphy. 1997. The Uneasy Relationship Between Social Contract Theory and Religious Toleration.


Primary Sources:

1.4       John Calvin. 1559. “Institutes of the Christian Religion: Book IV: Chapter 20.”

1.5       William Brewster. 1620. “The Mayflower Compact.”

1.6              John Winthrop. 1630. “A Model of Christian Charity.”

1.7              “Massachusetts Body of Liberties.” 1641.

1.8              Roger Williams. July 15, 1644. “The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution.”

1.9              “The Cambridge Platform.” 1648.

1.10          William Penn. 1670. “The Great Case of Liberty of Conscience.”

1.11          John Locke. 1689. “Letter Concerning Toleration.”


Chapter 2: Forging a New Nation                                                                                        




Integrative Essay:

2.1       Daniel Dreisbach. Religion and the Civil State in the American Founding.


Primary Sources:

2.2       John Adams. 1765. “A Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law.”

2.3              James Madison. 1784. “Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments.”

2.4              Thomas Jefferson. 1786. “Virginia Statute of Religious Liberty.”

2.5              Library of Congress. 1789. “House and Senate Debates” excerpts.

2.6              President George Washington. 1789. “Thanksgiving Proclamation.”

2.7              President George Washington. 1796. “Farewell Address.”

2.8              Nehemiah Dodge, Ephraim Robbins and Stephen S. Nelson. October 7, 1801. “Address of the Danbury Baptists Association.”

2.9              President Thomas Jefferson. January 1, 1802. “Letter to the Danbury Baptists Association.”

2.10     Alexis de Tocqueville. 1833. Democracy in America.


Part Two:  Religion and American Political Life

Chapter 3: Religion and American Civic Life                                                                     


Research Pieces:

3.1              Robert N. Bellah. 1967. Civil Religion in America.

3.2              Grace Y. Kao and Jerome E. Copulsky. 2007. The Pledge of Allegiance and the Meanings and Limits of Civil Religion.

3.3              Michael F. Bailey and Kristin Lindholm. 2003. Tocqueville and the Rhetoric of Civil Religion in the Presidential Inaugural Addresses.

3.4              Robert D. Putnam. 2000. Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community.


Primary Sources:

3.5              Jean-Jacques Rousseau. 1762. Book IV, Chapter VIII: Civil Religion. The Social Contract.

3.6              Alexis de Tocqueville. 1833. Chapters 2 and 5. Democracy in America.

3.7              President Abraham Lincoln. March 4, 1865. “Second Inaugural Address.”

3.8              General Dwight D. Eisenhower. June 6, 1944. “D-Day Prayer.”

3.9              President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. June 6, 1944. “D-Day Prayer.”

3.10          President John F. Kennedy. January 20, 1961. “Inaugural Address.”

3.11          President Bill Clinton. April 23, 1995. “Oklahoma City Speech.”

3.12          President George W. Bush. September 14, 2001. “Remarks at the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance.”


Chapter 4: The American Religious Landscape                                                     


Integrative Essay:         

4.1       Corwin Smidt. Making Sense of the American Religious Landscape.


Research Pieces:

4.2       Will Herberg. 1960. Protestant–Catholic–Jew.

4.3       Mark Silk. 2005. Religion and Region in American Public Life.

4.4       Walter Sundberg. 2000. Religious Trends in Twentieth-Century America.

4.5       Mark Chaves. 2004. Congregations in America.

4.6       Lyman Kellstedt, John Green, Corwin Smidt, and James Guth. 2007. Faith Transformed:  Religion and American Politics from FDR George W Bush.

4.7       Fredrick C. Harris. 1999. Something Within: Religion in African-American Political Activism.

4.8       Nathan J. Kelly and Jana Morgan Kelly. 2005. Religion and Latino Partisanship in the United States.

4.9       Amaney Jamal. 2005. The Political Participation and Engagement of Muslim Americans: Mosque Involvement and Group Consciousness.


Chapter 5: Religion and Social Movements




Research Pieces:

5.1       Christian Smith.  1996. Disruptive Religion: The Force of Faith in Social Movement Activism.

5.2       Aldon Morris. 1984. The Origins of the Civil Rights Movement: Black Communities Organizing for Change.

5.3       David Chappell. 2004. A Stone of Hope: Prophetic Religion and the Death of Jim Crow.


Primary Sources:

5.4       William Lloyd Garrison. December 14, 1833. “Declaration of Sentiments of the American Anti-Slavery Convention.”

5.5       Angelina E. Grimke. 1836. “Appeal to the Christian Women of the South.”

5.6       Sojourner Truth. December 1851. “Ain’t I A Woman?”

5.7       Frances Willard. 1876. “Home Protection I.”

5.8       “Statement by Alabama Clergymen.” April 12, 1963.

5.9       Martin Luther King Jr. April 16, 1963. “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”

5. 10    Malcolm X. April 3, 1964. “The Ballot or the Bullet.”


Chapter 6: Religious Groups in the Political Process                                                         


Integrative Essay:

6.1       Kimberly H. Conger. Religious Interest Groups and the American Political Process.


Research Pieces:

6.2       Allen Hertzke. 1988.  Representing God in Washington: The Role of Religious

Lobbies in the American Polity.

6.3       Kevin R. den Dulk. 2006. In Legal Culture but Not of It: The Role of Cause

Lawyers in Evangelical Legal Mobilization.

6.4       Edward L. Cleary.  2003.  Religion at the Statehouse: The California Catholic



Primary Sources:

6.5       2008 Christian Coalition Voter Guide. 2008.

6.6       Muslim Public Affairs Council. Activate 08 Voter Guide: 2008 Election: A Look at the Candidates & the Issues. 2008.

6.7       Catholic Answers Action. Voter’s Guide for Serious Catholics. 2006.

6.8       Brief of Amicus Curiae American Center for Law and Justice in Support of

Respondents, Van Orden v. Perry.

6.9       Brief for the Hindu American Foundation and Others, Representing the Interests

of Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains, as Amici Curiae in Support of Reversal, Van Orden v. Perry. 


Part Three:  Religion and Governing Institutions

Chapter 7: Religion and the Presidency                                                                              


Integrative Essay:

7.1  Mark J. Rozell and Harold S. Bass. Religion and the U.S. Presidency.


Research Pieces:

7.2       Gary Scott Smith. 2006. Faith and the Presidency: From George Washington to George

W. Bush.

7.3       Charles W. Dunn. 1984. The Theological Dimensions of Presidential Leadership: A

Classification Model.


Primary Sources:

7.4       President Abraham Lincoln. September 1862. “Meditation on the Divine Will.”

7.5       President John F. Kennedy. September 12, 1960. “Address to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association.”

7.6       President Jimmy Carter. January 20, 1977. “Inaugural Address.”

7.7       Ronald Reagan. July 17, 1980. “Nomination Acceptance Address.”

7.8       President George W. Bush. January 20, 2001. “Inaugural Address.”

7.9       President Barack Obama. June 4, 2009. “A New Beginning,” Cairo, Egypt.


Chapter 8: Religion and Congress                                                                                       


Research Pieces:

8.1           Peter Benson and Dorothy Williams. 1982. Religion on Capitol Hill: Myths and Realities.

8.2              John C. Green and James L. Guth. 1991. Religion, Representatives, and Roll Calls.

8.3              Elizabeth Anne Oldmixon. 2005. Uncompromising Positions: God, Sex, and the U.S. House of Representatives.

8.4              Michelle Gabriel. 2003. Prayer Groups Proliferate on Capitol Hill.

8.5              Representative David Price. 2004. The Congressional Experience.


Primary Sources:

8.6              Senator Joseph Lieberman. Feb. 1, 2001. “Statement of Senator Joe Lieberman on the Nomination of John Ashcroft for Attorney General.”

8.7              Representative Mark Souder. 2004. “A Conservative Christian’s View on Public Life.”

8.8              Representative Nancy Pelosi. June 16, 2005. “Nancy Pelosi Delivers Speech at National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast.”

8.9              Senator Barack Obama. June 28, 2006. “‘Call to Renewal’ Keynote Address.”

8.10          Senator John Danforth. June 17, 2007. “Onward, Moderate Christian Soldiers.”


Chapter 9:  Religion and the Supreme Court


Integrative Essay:

9.1       Paul Wahlbeck. Judicial Decision Making and Religion Cases.


Research Pieces:

9.2       Thomas E. Buckley. 2004. “A Mandate for Anti-Catholicism: The Blaine Amendment.”

9.3       Jeffrey Toobin.  2007. The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court.

9.4       Peter Irons. 2006. People’s History of the Supreme Court: The Men and Women Whose Cases and Decisions have Shaped our Constitution. 

9.5       David O’Brien. 2008. Storm Center: The Supreme Court in American Politics.


Primary Documents:

Free Exercise Cases

9.6       Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U.S. 296 (1940).

9.7       Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398 (1963).

9.8       Employment Division v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990).


Establishment Cases

9.9       Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971).

9.10     Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, 536 U.S. 639 (2002).

9.11     Locke v. Davey, 540 U.S. 712 (2004).



Part Four:  Religion in American Public Policy

Chapter 10: Domestic Policy Debates                                                                                 


Integrative Essay:         

10.1     Katherine E. Knutson. Religion and Public Policy.


Research Pieces:

10.2     Hugh Heclo. 2001. Religion and Public Policy: An Introduction. Journal of Policy History 13(1): 1-18.

10.3     Douglas Koopman. 2009. “Religion and American Public Policy: Morality Politics and Beyond.”


Primary Sources:

10.4     The Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America. March 5-7 1946. “The Church and Race Relations,”

10.5     “Chicago Declaration of Evangelical Social Concern.” November 25, 1973.

10.6     United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. 1986. “Economic Justice for All: Pastoral Letter on Catholic Social Teaching and the U.S. Economy.”

10.7     Evangelical Manifesto Steering Committee. May 7, 2008. “An Evangelical Manifesto: A Declaration of Evangelical Identity and Public Commitment.” 


Domestic Policy Case Study:  Environmental Issues

10.8     International Catholic-Jewish Liaison Committee. March 23-26, 1998. “A Common Declaration on the Environment.”

10.9     National Council of Churches USA. 2006. “Resolution on Global Warming.”

10.10   Evangelical Climate Initiative. January, 2006. “Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action.”

10.11   Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation. June 11, 2007. “An Open Letter to the Signers of ‘Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action’ and Others Concerned About Global Warming.”


Chapter 11: Foreign Policy Debates                                                


Research Pieces:

11.1     Samuel Huntington. 1996. The Clash of Civilizations.

11.2     Madeline Albright. 2006. The Mighty and the Almighty. 

11.3     Walter Russell Mead. September/October 2006. “God’s Country?”

Primary Sources:         

11.4     St. Thomas Aquinas. The Summa Theologica. Part II, Question 40. 

11.5     The Schleitheim Confession of Faith: Brotherly Union of a Number

            of Children of God Concerning Seven Articles. February 24, 1527.

11.6     Mennonite Central Committee. February 1993/Conviction 4 Revised June 1994.

            A Commitment to Christ’s Way of Peace. 

11.7     U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, November 13, 2002. Statement on Iraq.


Chapter 12:  Conclusion



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