The Political Pulpit Revisited

The Political Pulpit Revisited examines a set of arguments originally made in 1975 about church-state relations in the U.S. Scholars have long wondered how a nation of some two thousand different religious denominations has been able to maintain relative calm about such matters. To be sure, controversial issues like abortion rights, war-time pacifism, sanctuary for illegal aliens, clerical abuse of children, non-taxation of church property, and other matters continually roil the political waters. But somehow the nation has survived despite its consummate disagreements. How has it done so? The first edition of this book responded by arguing that church and state in the U.S. have signed a mutually binding rhetorical contract to handle such tensions. The contract contains an elaborate set of rules to guide what the government should do about religion and how the church should respond. The genius of this arrangement, the first edition declared, is that church-state tensions were worked out symbolically rather than coercively, legally, or economically. The Political Pulpit Revisited updates this argument and then offers reflections by eight distinguished scholars who reexamine the con