At the First Things site today, I have an essay on how a broad, ecumenical Christianity will feature in a new, multiethnic conservative movement. Here’s a sample:
The factors Salam identifies no doubt figure in minorities’ increasing affinity for conservative politics. But I think his explanation misses another important factor: conservative Christianity. The media typically presents conservative Christians as monolithically white, but that is not the case. For example, about one-quarter of evangelicals are members of racial and ethnic minorities, and Republicans apparently did very well among them. According to Gaston Espinoza, a researcher at Claremont McKenna College who conducted a survey of Latino voters, it was “Latino evangelicals” who “helped Trump to do better than anyone expected in Texas … and in Florida.”
I don’t know of studies that analyze minority voters in terms of church attendance, but in the general population, religious observance correlates with voting for the GOP, and that pattern presumably holds for many minorities as well. According to the AP Vote Cast Survey, people who attend church regularly—up to a few times a month—broke solidly for Trump, 54 percent to 45 percent. People who attend church once a week or more voted 61 percent for Trump. By contrast, people who never attend church went strongly for Biden, 63 percent to 32 percent. (This last figure is consistent with surveys that reveal that more than two-thirds of Democrats “never attend religious services.”) To be sure, differences exist among minority communities; black Christians, for example, continue to vote Democrat in very large numbers. Still, it is reasonable to think that, with respect to minorities, as with respect to the American public generally, the religiously observant tend to vote Republican.
If Republicans are to become a multiethnic, middle-class movement, a popular, ecumenical Christianity of the sort I observed at the Museum of the Bible will likely have an important place in it. In fact, the religious identity of the movement need not be exclusively Christian. Americans are famously non-sectarian when it comes to public religion, and it’s possible to imagine a political coalition of the traditionally religious from all faith communities. Although good studies are difficult to find, some suggest that Orthodox Jews increasingly vote Republican. And President Trump drew one-third of Muslim voters in 2020, a large increase over 2016.
You can read the whole essay here.
In June, the University of Notre Dame Press will release “A Liberalism Safe for Catholicism? Perspectives from The Review of Politics,” edited by Daniel Philpott (University of Notre Dame) and Ryan T. Anderson is (Heritage Foundation). The publisher’s description follows:
This volume is the third in the “Perspectives from The Review of Politics” series, following The Crisis of Modern Times, edited by A. James McAdams (2007), andWar, Peace, and International Political Realism, edited by Keir Lieber (2009). InA Liberalism Safe for Catholicism?, editors Daniel Philpott and Ryan Anderson chronicle the relationship between the Catholic Church and American liberalism as told through twenty-seven essays selected from the history of the Review of Politics, dating back to the journal’s founding in 1939. The primary subject addressed in these essays is the development of a Catholic political liberalism in response to the democratic environment of nineteenth- and twentieth-century America. Works by Jacques Maritain, Heinrich Rommen, and Yves R. Simon forge the case for the compatibility of Catholicism and American liberal institutions, including the civic right of religious freedom. The conversation continues through recent decades, when a number of Catholic philosophers called into question the partnership between Christianity and American liberalism and were debated by others who rejoined with a strenuous defense of the partnership. The book also covers a wide range of other topics, including democracy, free market economics, the common good, human rights, international politics, and the thought of John Henry Newman, John Courtney Murray, and Alasdair MacIntyre, as well as some of the most prominent Catholic thinkers of the last century, among them John Finnis, Michael Novak, and William T. Cavanaugh. This book will be of special interest to students and scholars of political science, journalists and policymakers, church leaders, and everyday Catholics trying to make sense of Christianity in modern society.
In June, the Cornell University Press will release “Religion on the Battlefield,” by Ron E. Hassner (University of California, Berkeley). The publisher’s description follows:
How does religion shape the modern battlefield? Ron E. Hassner proposes that religion acts as a force multiplier, both enabling and constraining military operations. This is true not only for religiously radicalized fighters but also for professional soldiers. In the last century, religion has influenced modern militaries in the timing of attacks, the selection of targets for assault, the zeal with which units execute their mission, and the ability of individual soldiers to face the challenge of war. Religious ideas have not provided the reasons why conventional militaries fight, but religious practices have influenced their ability to do so effectively.
In Religion on the Battlefield, Hassner focuses on the everyday practice of religion in a military context: the prayers, rituals, fasts, and feasts of the religious practitioners who make up the bulk of the adversaries in, bystanders to, and observers of armed conflicts. To show that religious practices have influenced battlefield decision making, Hassner draws most of his examples from major wars involving Western militaries. They include British soldiers in the trenches of World War I, U.S. pilots in World War II, and U.S. Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hassner shows that even modern, rational, and bureaucratized military organizations have taken—and must take—religious practice into account in the conduct of war.
In May, the New York University Press will release “American Conservatism: Nomos LVI,” edited by Sanford V. Levinson (University of Texas), Joel Parker (University of Texas), and Melissa S. Williams (University of Toronto). The publisher’s description follows:
The topic of American conservatism is especially timely—and perhaps volatile. Is there what might be termed an “exceptional” form of conservatism that is characteristically American, in contrast to conservatisms found in other countries? Are views that are identified in the United States as conservative necessarily congruent with what political theorists might classify under that label? Or does much American conservatism almost necessarily reflect the distinctly liberal background of American political thought?
In American Conservatism, a distinguished group of American political and legal scholars reflect on these crucial questions, unpacking the very nature and development of American conservative thought. They examine both the historical and contemporary realities of arguments offered by self-conscious conservatives in the United States, offering a well-rounded view of the state of this field. In addition to synoptic overviews of the various dimensions of American conservative thought, specific attention is paid to such topics as American constitutionalism, the role of religion and religious institutions, and the particular impact of the late Leo Strauss on American thought and thinkers. Just as American conservatism includes a wide, and sometimes conflicting, group of thinkers, the essays in this volume themselves reflect differing and sometimes controversial assessments of the theorists under discussion.
In April, Palgrave Macmillan will release “The Religious Right and the Talibanization of America” by Masood Ashraf Raja (University of North Texas). The publisher’s description follows:
This highly original book suggests that the practices of Taliban and the
American far right, two very significant and poorly understood groups, share common features. This commonality can be found in the philosophical basis of their ideological beliefs, in their comparative worldviews, and in their political practices. As Raja argues, the Taliban are much less the product of an irrational fundamentalism, and the radical right in America is much more the result of such a mindset, than Americans recognize. After providing a detailed explanation of his theoretical concepts and specialized vocabulary, the author develops a discussion of the subject in this brief but penetrating book. This is a book that should attract a wide readership among both academics and the general public.
Next month, Penguin Random House will release “The Relevance of Religion: How Faithful People Can Change Politics” by John Danforth (former attorney general of Missouri, United States senator from Missouri, and United States representative to the United Nations). The publisher’s description follows:
Former United States senator and ambassador to the United Nations John Danforth offers a fascinating, thoughtful, and deeply personal look at the state of American politics today—and how religion can be a bridge over our bitter partisan divide.
In an era of extreme partisanship, when running for office has become a zero-sum game in which candidates play exclusively to their ideological bases, Americans on both sides of the political aisle hunger for the return of a commitment to the common good. Too often, it seems, religion has been used as a wedge to divide us in these battles. But is it also the key to restoring our civic virtue?
For more than a decade, John Danforth, who is also an ordained Episcopal priest, has written extensively on the negative use of religion as a divisive force in American politics. Now he turns to the positive, constructive impact faithful religious believers have and can have on our public life. The Relevance of Religion is the product of that period of reflection.
In the calm and wise voice of the pastor he once aspired to be, Senator Danforth argues that our shared religious values can lead us out of the embittered, entrenched state of politics today. A lifelong Republican, he calls his own party to task for its part in Read more
In November, Brandeis University Press will release “Legalizing Plural Marriage: The Next Frontier in Family Law” by Mark Goldfeder (Emory University School of Law). The publisher’s description follows:
Polygamous marriages are currently recognized in nearly fifty countries worldwide. Although polygamy is technically illegal in the United States, it is practiced by members of some religious communities and a growing number of other “poly” groups. In the radically changing and increasingly multicultural world in which we live, the time has come to define polygamous marriage and address its legal feasibilities.
Although Mark Goldfeder does not argue the right or wrong of plural marriage, he maintains that polygamy is the next step—after same-sex marriage—in the development of U.S. family law. Providing a road map to show how such legalization could be handled, he explores the legislative and administrative arguments which demonstrate that plural marriage is not as farfetched—or as far off—as we might think. Goldfeder argues not only that polygamy is in keeping with the legislative values and freedoms of the United States, but also that it would not be difficult to manage or administrate within our current legal system. His legal analysis is enriched throughout with examples of plural marriage in diverse cultural and historical contexts.
Tackling the issue of polygamy in the United States from a legal perspective, this book will engage anyone interested in constitutional law, family law, or criminal law, along with sociologists and those who study gender and culture in modern times.
In November, Palgrave Macmillan will release “Mediating Religion and Government: Political Institutions and the Policy Process” edited by Kevin R. den Dulk (Calvin College) and Elizabeth A. Oldmixon (University of North Texas). The publisher’s description follows:
The empirical study of religion and politics emerged as a strongly behavioral sub-discipline within political science within the late 20th Century. Particularly in the American context, scholars have placed tremendous emphasis on religion’s influence on political attitudes and behaviors. As a result, we have a much better understanding of the potency of religion in shaping voting patterns, party affiliation, and views of public policy, among other behavioral aspects of American politics.
In the context of a democracy, however, political institutions mediate the effect of religion on political attitudes and the policy process. In a Madisonian sense, institutions are at the fulcrum of mass politics and policy outputs. This volume investigates the influence of religion on and within political institutions. Each chapter provides a synthesis of the literature with respect to a particular institution and makes an original research contribution to the literature. By addressing the historical, contemporary, constitutional, and policy-based elements of religious interactions within politics, the volume creates a wide-ranging assessment of the sometimes contentious relationship between these two pillars of American culture.
This month, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will publish How to Be Secular: A Call to Arms for Religious Freedom by Jacques Berlinerblau (Georgetown University). The publisher’s description follows.
Seen as godless by the religious and weak by the atheists, secularism mostly has been misunderstood. In How to Be Secular, Berlinerblau argues for a return to America’s hard-won secular tradition; the best way to protect religious diversity and freedom lies in keeping an eye on the encroachment of each into the other.
Berlinerblau passionately defends the virtues of secularism, reminds us what it is and what it can protect, and urges us to mobilize around its cause, which is for all Americans to continue to enjoy freedom for—and from—religion. This is an urgent wake-up call for progressives in and out of all faiths.
In March, Baylor University Press published, The Politics of Sacred Rhetoric: Absolutist Appeals and Political Persuasion, by Morgan Marietta, who teaches American politics and political psychology at the University of Georgia. The volume explores the uses and effects of American politicians’ reliance on religious tropes in expressing their political positions, even where the connection between their language and the sacred is not overt. The first part of the volume discusses this trend and its effect in general. The second part delves into how such rhetoric has been used in specific social movements; by specific presidents, such as George W. Bush; and in specific political undertakings, like the 2008 Democratic campaign.
For the publisher’s description, please follow the jump. Read more