This study examines the role of religion in American politics. It begins with the assumption that there exist multiple democratic theories, and that religion has a different role to play in each. It compares consensus theories of American political culture, and dualistic theories of political mobilization, and accounts, which emphasize the diversity of the American citizenry. The question of how religious leaders view their political roles is of the work's focus. The major part of the study consists of interviews with nearly thirty Protestant ministers and Roman Catholic clergy concerning their conceptions of the relationship between the sacred and the political. These conceptions are then related to the various theories of democratic political culture, with the conclusion that each of three traditions (Roman Catholicism, mainline Protestantism, and Evangelical Protestantism) embodies to some extent one of the models of democratic politics. This work will be of interest to scholars and students of American politics, government, and religion.
Ted G. Gelen is Professor of Political Science at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. He is the author of several books including The Political Mobilization of Religious Beliefs (1991).