Special Issue "Religion, Politics, and America’s Liberal-Conservative Divide Reconsidered"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 February 2015).

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Darren Dochuk

John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics, and Department of History, Washington University in St. Louis, Campus Box 1066, One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO 63130, USA
E-Mail
Interests: intersection of religion and politics in 20th century U.S. history; conservative religious movements and the politics of oil, energy, and land use

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues

Media and scholarly focus on the culture wars has reified a conservative-liberal divide in U.S. religion and politics, to the point of stifling constructive examination of the analytical spaces in-between. Thankfully, recent trends in scholarship have begun adding texture to our understandings of “Right,” “Left,” and “Center” in both church and state. This is certainly the case in the discipline of history. While the study of conservatism has flourished recently as a corrective to an earlier “liberal consensus” model, new scholarship is emerging that reassesses liberals and liberalism(s) in more complex renderings of the Nixon, Reagan, and Bush eras. Meanwhile, several historians are providing fresh analyses of what “conservative” and “liberal” actually mean when delineating important features of our recent religious and political past. Where do we place progressive evangelicals or Catholic radicals on the spectrum? And what about Christian Realists, Mennonites, Latino Pentecostals, military chaplains, and proponents of a “greener faith”? How do these categories break down, or do damage, when we try to impose them on people, movements, and issues that resist easy categorization? This special issue seeks to take advantage of our current moment in historical and interdisciplinary scholarship by drawing together articles that: (a) reassess liberalism and conservatism on their own terms, as dynamic, fluid entities with shifting boundaries both in the pews and at the polls; (b) problematize and redraw liberal-conservative divides in and between religion and politics; (c) offer illustration of innovative ways to rewrite post-World War II religious and political histories beyond rigid liberal-conservative binaries. Scholars are invited to contribute articles from a broad range of methodological approaches, and to think about post-World War II American developments in a more expansive global context.

Dr. Darren Dochuk
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

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Keywords

  • conservatism
  • culture wars
  • liberalism
  • postwar era

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
The Partisan Trajectory of the American Pro-Life Movement: How a Liberal Catholic Campaign Became a Conservative Evangelical Cause
Religions 2015, 6(2), 451-475; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel6020451
Received: 25 February 2015 / Revised: 2 April 2015 / Accepted: 3 April 2015 / Published: 16 April 2015
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (295 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This article employs a historical analysis of the religious composition of the pro-life movement to explain why the partisan identity of the movement shifted from the left to the right between the late 1960s and the 1980s. Many of the Catholics who formed [...] Read more.
This article employs a historical analysis of the religious composition of the pro-life movement to explain why the partisan identity of the movement shifted from the left to the right between the late 1960s and the 1980s. Many of the Catholics who formed the first anti-abortion organizations in the late 1960s were liberal Democrats who viewed their campaign to save the unborn as a rights-based movement that was fully in keeping with the principles of New Deal and Great Society liberalism, but when evangelical Protestants joined the movement in the late 1970s, they reframed the pro-life cause as a politically conservative campaign linked not to the ideology of human rights but to the politics of moral order and “family values.” This article explains why the Catholic effort to build a pro-life coalition of liberal Democrats failed after Roe v. Wade, why evangelicals became interested in the antiabortion movement, and why the evangelicals succeeded in their effort to rebrand the pro-life campaign as a conservative cause. Full article
Open AccessArticle
A Jewish America and a Protestant Civil Religion: Will Herberg, Robert Bellah, and Mid-Twentieth Century American Religion
Religions 2015, 6(2), 434-450; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel6020434
Received: 16 February 2015 / Revised: 24 March 2015 / Accepted: 31 March 2015 / Published: 13 April 2015
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (253 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This essay reads Will Herberg’s Protestant-Catholic-Jew alongside Robert Bellah’s “Civil Religion in America” to illuminate how mid-century thinkers constructed, rather than merely observed, a vision of, and for, American religion. Placing Herberg in direct conversation with Bellah illuminates why Herberg’s religious triptych depiction [...] Read more.
This essay reads Will Herberg’s Protestant-Catholic-Jew alongside Robert Bellah’s “Civil Religion in America” to illuminate how mid-century thinkers constructed, rather than merely observed, a vision of, and for, American religion. Placing Herberg in direct conversation with Bellah illuminates why Herberg’s religious triptych depiction of America endured while his argument for an “American Way of Life”—the prototype for Bellah’s widely accepted idea of civil religion—flailed. Although Herberg’s “American Way of Life” and Bellah’s “Civil Religion” resemble one another as systems built on but distinct from faith traditions, they emerged from intellectual struggles with two distinct issues. Herberg’s work stemmed from the challenges wrought by ethnic and religious diversity in America, while Bellah wrote out of frustration with Cold War conformity. Both men used civil religion to critique American complacency, but Herberg agonized over trite formulations of faith while Bellah derided uncritical affirmations of patriotism. Bellah’s civil religion co-existed with and, more importantly, contained Herberg’s “Protestant-Catholic-Jew” triad and obscured the American Way of Life. In an increasingly diverse and divisive America, Bellah’s civil religion provided a more optimistic template for national self-critique, even as Herberg’s American Way of Life more accurately described the limits of national self-understanding. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Cold War Transgressions: Christian Realism, Conservative Socialism, and the Longer 1960s
Religions 2015, 6(1), 266-285; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel6010266
Received: 13 January 2015 / Revised: 10 March 2015 / Accepted: 13 March 2015 / Published: 20 March 2015
PDF Full-text (361 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This essay examines the convergence of the Protestant left and traditionalist right during the 1950s. Reinhold Niebuhr and the World Council of Churches challenged Cold War liberalism from within. As they did, they anticipated and even applauded the anti-liberalism of early Cold War [...] Read more.
This essay examines the convergence of the Protestant left and traditionalist right during the 1950s. Reinhold Niebuhr and the World Council of Churches challenged Cold War liberalism from within. As they did, they anticipated and even applauded the anti-liberalism of early Cold War conservatives. While exploring intellectual precursors of the New Left, this essay forefronts one forgotten byproduct of the political realignments following World War II: The transgressive politics of “conservative socialism.” Furthermore, this work contributes to growing awareness of ecumenical Christian impact within American life. Full article
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