Protestant Piety and Politics in Contemporary America

Harry R. Davis

Article Type: Article

Publication Date: 4/1/1983

Issue: Piety (Vol. 3, No 2, Spring, 1983)

The persistence of religion as a motivating force in modern politics tends to support a formulation widely shared among modern sociologists of religion: the religious beliefs of the people of a society decisively shape their cultural assumptions and values which in the long run legitimate their public institutions and guide their political choices. To the extent that this proposition may be valid, religion becomes a decisive category for social and historical analysis, and churches bear a tremendous burden of moral and political responsibility. In such a context, how should we understand what is happening to the relationship of the Protestant churches to the public order in the United States and appraise the performance of the churches in fulfilling this social responsibility? Essaying answers to such questions is a highly hazardous enterprise, but an urgent one which some thoughtful contemporary analysts are undertaking.

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