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Religion in American Politics:
A Short History
Frank Lambert

Paperback | 2010 | $18.95 | £14.95 | ISBN: 9780691146133
296 pp. | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
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eBook | ISBN: 9781400824588 |
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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. In Religion 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 Politics brings rare historical perspective and insight to a subject that was just as important--and controversial--in 1776 as it is today.


"Of the writing of books about the rise and rumored fall of the religious right there is no end. But most of these tend toward the genre of the rant, which is why Lambert's new book is important. It gives a history of the intertwining of evangelical faith and political engagement in America that displays no obvious agenda other than to illuminate.... The whole book will be useful as a handy, clear and fair treatment of this most contentious subject."--Publishers Weekly

"Religion in American Politics . . . traces the interplay between pulpits and the public square through nearly two centuries of U.S. history. Some things, [Lambert] writes, never change."--Daniel Burke, Washington Post

"For students of U.S. religion and religious history, this is a useful and very interesting book. Despite many attempts to understand the relations between religion and politics, there have been few efforts to trace these interrelationships throughout U.S. history. Lambert takes on such a task enthusiastically and successfully, in a 'short' survey of 250 pages."--J. F. Findlay, Choice

"In this election season, with candidates often touting their plans to include religion in their political platforms, Lambert's richly-textured book provides a timely reminder of the divisiveness of religion and the wisdom of the Founding Fathers in keeping it out of national politics."--Henry L. Carrigan, Jr., ForeWord

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Table of Contents:

CHAPTER ONE: Providential and Secular America: Founding the Republic 14
CHAPTER TWO: Elusive Protestant Unity: Sunday Mails, Catholic Immigration, and Sectional Division 41
CHAPTER THREE: The "Gospel of Wealth" and the "Social Gospel": Industrialization and the Rise of Corporate America 74
CHAPTER FOUR: Faith and Science: The Modernist-Fundamentalist Controversy 104
CHAPTER FIVE: Religious and Political Liberalism: The Rise of Big Government from the New Deal to the Cold War 130
CHAPTER SIX: Civil Rights as a Religious Movement: Politics in the Streets 160
CHAPTER SEVEN: The Rise of the "Religious Right": The Reagan Revolution and the "Moral Majority" 184
CHAPTER EIGHT: Reemergence of the "Religious Left"? America's Culture War in the Early Twenty-first Century 218

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