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Religion and Civic Responsibility

Calvin College and the Paul B. Henry Institute for the Study of Religion and Politics are committed to the integration of Christian faith and politics. The interaction of Christians in public life and the political field leads to issues and discussions about civic responsibility within the religious community. The Henry Institute continues to examine various viewpoints, avenues and paths taken by Christians in their roles as concerned citizens, politicians, and actively engaged participants.

The Civic Responsibility Project

In the spring of 2005, the Henry Institute initiated a systematic study regarding the interplay between religion and civic responsibility in American society through a research program called The Civic Responsibility Project. Exit polls conducted on Election Day 2004 demonstrated an overall need to develop a better and deeper understanding of the role of religion and moral values within American public life. With a relatively large segment of voters leaving the polls and responding that the most important issue in the presidential campaign related to “moral values,” considerable media discussion and confusion about “moral values” voters was generated, spurring the Institute to assess the need for further research and evaluation.

The study and evaluation is funded through a grant from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation and is being conducted by five experts in the field of political science and religion. The first phase of the project concluded with the publication of Pews, Prayers and Participation in the fall of 2008. The second phase of the research was funded through a continued grant from the Bradley Foundation and included a major national survey in 2008 of approximately 3000 participants. The survey was conducted in two waves: the first contact with respondents was in the spring of 2008 and the subsequent re-interview took place after the Presidential election. The Disappearing God Gap: Religion in the 2008 Presidential Election, published in 2010, incorporates the survey findings.

Christian Perspectives on Public Policies Today

The Christian Perspectives on Public Policies Today project is based upon formulating a thoughtful method of articulating basic Biblical principles that foster a Christian approach to contemporary public policy issues, as well as providing some guidelines for Christians' use in examining and evaluating those policies. Stephen Monsma, Senior Reserach Fellow at The Henry Institute has authored a book, study guide, and accompanying DVD, to provide a basis of study for individuals who are searching for direction and information about Christian involvement in the political sphere.