Politics and Religion in the United States
Routledge – 2013 – 392 pages
There is a complex relationship between religiosity and secularism in the American experience. America is notable both for its strict institutional separation of church and state, and for the strong role that religion has played in its major social movements and ongoing political life. This book seeks to illuminate for readers the dynamics underlying this seeming paradox, and to examine how the various religious groups in America have approached and continue to approach the tensions between sacred and secular. This much-anticipated revision brings Corbett and Corbett’s classic text fully up to date. The second edition continues with a thorough discussion of historical origins of religion in political life, constitutional matters, public opinion, and the most relevant groups, all while taking theology seriously. Revisions include fully updating all the public opinion data, fuller incorporation of voting behavior among different religious and demographic groups, enhanced discussion of minority religions such as Mormonism and Islam, and new examples throughout.
"Although politics and religion are in the news almost every day, it is rare to find reasoned discussion that demonstrates an understanding of the historical and contemporary issues involved. Here now is a ‘must read’ book that provides that understanding."
—Robert Wuthnow, Princeton University
"The second edition of this fine book is both timely and welcome. The authors have retained the insightful structure and theoretical insights of the first edition, while providing valuable updates. The second edition properly emphasizes both the continuity and change which characterize religious politics in the United States."
—Ted G. Jelen, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
"Anyone interested in understanding the complex interplay between religion and politics in the U.S. should start by reading this book from cover to cover. This is a lucidly written and comprehensive work that will serve both as a balanced introduction for those new to the field, as well as providing scholars with nuanced and thoughtful analyses of important shifts in the underlying relationship between religion, politics and society. This meticulously researched update of a classic text is one that I will certainly return to time and again."
—Jean Schroedel, Claremont Graduate University"This revised text offers scholars and students a comprehensive blueprint for approaching a complex and multi-faceted topic. Clear definitions, extensive examples, and up to date public-opinion and demographic data make Politics & Religion in the United States a perfect complement to classroom discussions seeking to frame and debate the important and ever-evolving role of religion in American public life."
—Erika B. Seamon, Georgetown University
"This book brings into sharp relief how the secular and the religious co-exist in American political life. The book builds on a strong foundation to explore significant questions of religious pluralism and the American political experience. Throughout the book the exquisite difficulty of gauging where religion ends and government begins entices the reader to grapple with the seeming paradox of public life in a nation seemingly so dedicated to strict church-state separation and yet so enmeshed with religion. Is America a secular or a religious nation? If I chose a single book to recommend to students and colleagues that could answer that question, this would be it."
—Kathleen M. Moore, UC Santa Barbara
1. Politics and Religion: An Overview. Part I: Religion and History. 2. The Colonial and Founding Eras. 3. Religion and Politics in American History: 1800-1960. 4. Religion and Politics in America since 1960. Part II: Religion and the First Amendment. 5. The Establishment Clause. 6. The Free Exercise Clause. Part III: Religion and Public Opinion. 7. Public Opinion about Religion and Politics. 8. Religious Orientations and Political Behavior among White Americans. 9. Religion and Politics in Racial Minority Communities. Part IV: Effects of Religious Influences in Politics.10. Religion and Interest Group Activity. 11. Religion in Public Life: The Contemporary Debate. 12. Conclusion: Is America a Secular or a Religious Nation?
Michael Corbett was professor of political science at Ball State University.
Julia Corbett-Hemeyer is professor emeritus of religious studies at Ball State Univeristy. She is a Community Minister with the Unitarian Universalist Church.
J. Matthew Wilson is an associate professor of political science at Southern Methodist University. He specializes in political behavior, religion and politics, and political psychology. Wilson is the editor of From Pews to Polling Places: Faith and Politics in the American Religious Mosaic.