Pastors and Public Life
- Published: March 15, 2016
- Publisher: Oxford University Press
- ISBN: 978-0190455507
America's clergy are not just religious leaders. Their influence extends far beyond church doors. Houses of worship stand at the center of American civic life--one of the few spheres in which relatively diverse individuals gather together regularly. And the moral authority granted to pastors means that they are uniquely positioned to play a role in public debates. Based on data gathered through national surveys of clergy across four mainline Protestant (the Disciples of Christ; the Presbyterian Church, USA; the Reformed Church in America; and the United Methodist Church) and three evangelical Protestant denominations (the Assemblies of God; the Christian Reformed Church; and the Southern Baptist Convention), Pastors and Public Life examines the changing sociological, theological, and political characteristics of American Protestant clergy over the past twenty-plus years. Smidt focuses on the relationship between clergy and politics--clergy positions on issues of American public policy, norms on what is appropriate for clergy to do politically, as well as the clergy's political cue-giving, their pronouncements on public policy, and political activism--and the impact these changes have on congregations and on American society as a whole. Pastors and Public Life is the first book to systematically examine such changes and continuity over time. It will be invaluable to scholars, students, pastors, and churchgoers.
"This book presents a detailed examination of the role clergy of selected Protestant denominations played in American public life."--CHOICE
"Pastors and Public Life authoritatively documents continuity and change in the political attitudes and behaviors of clergy in seven Protestant denominations. Written by a leading analyst of religion and politics in America, this informative and sometimes surprising book should be read by anyone wanting to know more about clergy political views, and their political activities both within congregations and beyond the church walls." --Mark Chaves, Professor of Sociology, Religious Studies, and Divinity, Duke University