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Current Publications


Christianity in Chinese Public Life: Religion, Society and the Rule of Law
Joel Carpenter, Kevin den Dulk

Today, one-quarter of all Chinese citizens claim a major religious tradition, and yet the state remains deeply concerned about religious activity. The West tends to view religion-and-state relations in China in bipolar terms: dissidents' resistance on one side and government repression on the other. But the interaction of religion, society, and governance in

Christianity in Chinese Public Life book cover

China is much more subtle and complex than that dichotomy would allow. The volume's contributors focus on Christianity in China to examine the prospects for social and political change, many writing from personal experience living in China.

Students of democratization assert that when citizens escape poverty, they seek more freedom of expression and subsequently establish agencies to express those values. The resulting 'civil society' helps citizens mediate between their interests and those of the state and seek the public good through non-governmental means. This book deftly explores the question: does an increase of religious activity in China amount to a nudging forward of democratization?

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Religion and Politics in America: Faith, Culture, and Strategic Choices
Kevin den Dulk, Robert Booth Fowler, Allen D. Hertzke, Laura R. Olson

Religion and politics are never far from the headlines, but their relationship remains complex and often confusing. In the fifth edition of Religion and Politics in America, the authors offer a lively, accessible, and balanced treatment of religion in the American political context. Historical, cultural, and

Religion and Politics in America

legal contexts that underlie religious political engagement are explored, while also highlighting the pragmatic and strategic political realities faced by religious organizations and citizens. The politics of various religious groups are assessed, and the authors also examine important subjects concerning religion and its relationship to gender, race/ethnicity, and class. The fifth edition has been revised to include the 2012 elections, including Mitt Romney's candidacy and Mormonism, and a fuller assessment of the role of religion in President Obama's first term.

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American Evangelicals Today
Corwin E. Smidt

American Evangelicals Today assesses the contemporary social, religious, and political characteristics of evangelical Protestants in light of 1) whether they are similar to or different from the adherents of other major faith traditions in American religious life, and 2) the extent to which these particular characteristics among evanglicals may have changed over the past four decades. The book analyzes the extent to which evangelicals are divided today within the framework of four potential factors that might shape such divisions: race/ethnicity, generational differences, educational attainment, and religious traditionalism.

American Evangelicals Today

Smidt offers a discussion of the nature of evangelical Protestantism and highlights particular analytical issues at play when determining just who should be classified as evangelical. He reveals some of the contradictory findings that can emerge through the use of different analytical frameworks and considers the current characteristcs of evangelicals, how they have changed over time, and how they may apper in the future.

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Pluralism and Freedom: Faith-Based Organizations in a Democratic Society
Stephen V. Monsma

Faith-based organizations play a major role in providing a host of health, educational, and social services to the public. Nearly all these efforts, however, have been accompanied by intense debate and numerous legal challenges. The right of faith-based organizations to hire based on religion, the presence of religious symbols and icons in room where government-subsidized services are provided, and the enforcement of gay civil rights to which some faith-based organizations object all continue to be subjects of intense debate and numerous court cases.

cover of Pluralism and Freedom

In Pluralism and Freedom, Stephen V. Monsma explores the question of how much autonomy should faith-based organizations retain when they enter the public realm? He contends that pluralism and freedom demand that religious freedom be respected, but that freedom of all religious traditions and of the general public and secular groups be equally respected, ideals that neither the left nor the right live up to. In response, Monsma argues that democratic pluralism requires a genuine, authentic -- but also a limited -- autonomy for faith-based organizations providing public services, and offers practical, concrete public policy applications of this framework in practice.

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The Disappearing God Gap? Religion in the 2008 Presidential Election
Corwin Smidt, Kevin denDulk, Bryan Froehle, James Penning, Stephen Monsma, Douglas Koopman

After the reelection of George W. Bush in 2004, the "God gap" became a hotly debated political issue. Religious voters were seen as the key to Bush's victory, and the Democratic party began scrambling to reach out to them

The Disappearing God Gap

while pollsters and pundits continued to argue that church-attending traditionalists were aligned against believers and non-believers with modern sensibilities in the American election process Four years after Bush's victory, with the economy in a tailspin on Election day, religion barely seemed to register on people's radar screens. Following the election of Barack Obama, there was little discussion of religion -- suggesting that religious factors had played little if any, role in his victory. And yet, the campaigns themselves were full of religious stories.

The authors test the disappearing "God gap" arguments by examining the role of religion in the historic 2008 presidential election, taking the long view by placing the election in historical context and looking at the campaigns from the primaries all the way through to Election Day. At the heart of the analysis is a national survey in which voters were interviewed in the spring of 2008 and then re-interviewed after the election. The conclusions reached reveal that the role of religion in American presidential elections continues to structure vote choices, and rather than disappearing, will likely continue to influence electoral politics. The authors assert, however, that the "God gap" may be slowly changing, and in some astonishing ways.

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Oxford Handbook cover
The Oxford Handbook of Religion and American Politics
edited by Corwin E. Smidt, Lyman A. Kellsted, James L. Guth

Religion is, and always has been, a powerful force in American politics. Over the past three decades, the study of religion and politics has gone from being ignored by the scholarly community to becoming a major force of research. Yet because this important research is not easily accessible to non- specialists, much of the analysis seen in the media regarding religion's role in the political arena is greatly oversimplified.

The Oxford Handbook of Religion and American Politics bridges the information gap by examining the considerable research conducted up to this point and assessing what has been learned, what remains unsettled due to conflicting research findings, and what important questions remain largely unaddressed by current research endeavors. Its chapters, written by noted scholars in specialized fields, summarize the latest views on particular topics, important findings, insights, and theoretical advances; outline current debates in scholarship; and raise important but understudied questions. Topics cover the full range of America's history, from its founding to the present day, and plumb the depths of every aspect of the nation's politics, from voting patterns and social movements to the role of clergy in political activism and the influence of religion in all three branches of government.

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Pews, Prayers and Participation

Pews, Prayers and Participation: Religion and Civic Responsibility in America
Corwin Smidt, Kevin denDulk, James Penning, Stephen Monsma, Douglas Koopman

This book takes a fresh look at the question: does religion really matter in American public life? Drawing from both extensive public surveys and theoretical reflection, the authors argue that religion does indeed foster a sense of civic

responsibility that shapes participation in a range of civic activities, including membership in groups, volunteering and philanthropic giving, the exercise of basic civic skills, and the exhibition of civic virtues. The study is unique in many ways, including its innovative definition of religious experience itself. Rather than examining a citizen's affiliation in a particular religious tradition, the authors focus on a citizen's level of participation in both public and private dimensions of religious life. This approach allows them to assess some key questions: Is a largely private experience of religion counterproductive to engagement in public life? Does the public experience of religion contribute anything distinctive to civic engagement? The analysis is also unique in the breadth and depth of information the authors investigated which includes nearly fifteen surveys gathered over the past two decades. In the end, the authors find that the role of religion in fostering civic responsibility is distinctive, consistent, and consequential over time, but is also remarkably complex and subject to privatizing pressures that lessen religion's public witness.

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Healing for a Broken World

Healing for a Broken World
Steve Monsma

This book, written by Henry Institute research fellow Steve Monsma, guides believers in their efforts to be good Christian citizens. The opening chapters establish foundational biblical principles that are relevant to our lives as Christian citizens no matter the topic, and the following chapters highlight crucial global issues and how to apply these foundational

principles to them. The Henry Institute and Calvin Media Foundation have also produced a DVD and Study Guide to accompany the book, with the DVD consisting of ten minutes introductions to each of the twelve chapters in the book, and discussion questions in the Study Guide. The DVD and Study Guide are ideal for use in classrooms and discussion groups.

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Available as i-book

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Divided by a Common Heritage

Divided by a Common Heritage:
The Christian Reformed Church and the Reformed Church in America at the Beginning of the New Millennium
Corwin Smidt, Donald Luidens, James Penning, and Roger Nemeth

Like other human associations, religious groups tend to produce distinctive cultures. This is true even when religious

groups have much in common, such as a similar theology and a unique ethnic heritage. When theology and ethnicity are closely tied, religious groups have a powerful potential to shape members' world views--including their perspectives on beliefs, work and vocation, and politics--and to forge distinctive social boundaries. In order for these distinctive religious cultures to survive, the particular values, practices, and endeavors of these groups must retain their vitality among the members and be passed on to future generations ...

The Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRC) and the Reformed Church in America (RCA) are two denominations that are closely related in their theological and ethnic heritages. Although they have existed as separate entities for a century and a half, they continue to exhibit important similarities ... Moreover, both denominations are undergoing major transitions; they are increasingly challenged by forces that threaten to erode their religious distinctiveness and, perhaps endanger their very existence as separate denominations.

Thus, this book is written by Christian scholars, members of the two denominations, who have a love and appreciate for both the CRC and RCA ... [who] hope that this volume will not only serve to provide an important benchmark for the religious life of both bodies, but that it will enable members of each denomination to understand the other better, to recognize their similarities and differences, and to be better equipped to address the challenges they face today.

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Book Reception

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Faith, Hope and Jobs

Faith, Hope and Jobs:
Welfare to Work in Los Angeles
Stephen V. Monsma and Christopher Soper

A front-burner issue on the public policy agenda today is the increased use of partnerships between government and non-governmental entities, including faith-based social service organizations. In the wake of President Bush's faith-based initiative, many are still wondering about the effectiveness of these faith-based organizations in providing services to those in need, and whether they provide better outcomes than more

traditional government, secular, nonprofit and for-profit organizations. The book studies the effectiveness of 17 different welfare-to-work programs in Los Angeles County (where the U.S. government spends 14% of its entire welfare budget) to provide ground breaking insight into understanding what works and what does not. The book concludes with three sets of concrete recommendations for public policy makers, social service program managers and researchers.

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Pulpit and Politics

Pulpit and Politics: Clergy in American Politics at the Advent of the Millennium
edited by Corwin Smidt

This book is the culmination of an extensive effort to examine and compare the role of clergy in American politics across many denominations and religious faiths, including evangelical, mainline and black Protestant denominations, as well as the Roman Catholic Church and Jewish rabbis. Compilation of demographic data regarding the clergy, as well as theological positions and beliefs which form a critical component of their political leanings, are included in the book. The findings of survey efforts conducted subsequent to the 2000 Presidential election were compared to similar, but less extensive polling analyzed twelve years ago.

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The Cooperative Clergy Survey Project

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Religion as Social Capital:
Producing the Common Good
edited by Corwin Smidt

While Robert Putnam's Bowling Alone (Simon & Schuster 2000) highlighted the notion of social capital and volunteerism, little attention has been paid to religion's role in generating social capital -- an ironic omission since religion constitutes the most common form of voluntary association in America today. Featuring essays by prominent social scientists, this is the first book-length systematic examination of the relationship between religion and social capital and on the effects of religious social capital on democratic life in the United States.

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Evangelicalism: The Next Generation
James Penning and Corwin Smidt

Nearly two decades have passed since James D. Hunter published his ground breaking book, Evangelicalism: The Coming Generation, which deals primarily with the theological, political, and social attitudes of students attending nine evangelical colleges. Hunter's examination of students attending evangelical colleges raised disturbing questions not only about Christian higher education, but about the future of American evangelicalism as well.

Penning and Smidt's book examines the theological, social, and political attitudes and behavior of students attending the same colleges examined by Hunter. To a large extent, the authors used the same questionnaire items and focused on the same issues as did Hunter. In that sense, the study seeks both to replicate and update that of Hunter. However, Penning and Smidt also have a broader goal of examining ways in which a religious subculture, in this case evangelical Protestantism, deals with the challenges of modernity.

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Serving the Claims of Justice,
Paul Henry; Doug Koopman, ed.

Published by the Henry Institute, this book celebrates the life and work of Paul Henry in the words of people who knew him well. Nationally syndicated columnist David S. Broder contributes a foreword, and there are nine other essays by friends of Paul Henry such as Dennis Hastert, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives; Oregon Senator Mark Hatfield; North Carolina congressman David Price; Michigan congressman Fred Upton; Paul Hillegonds, former Speaker of the Michigan House of Representatives; and Fuller Seminary president Richard Mouw.

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In God We Trust?
Edited by Corwin Smidt and published by Baker Academic Press, this work is a supplement to the American political story for students interested in exploring the relationship between religion and American politics in greater depth. This volume is uniquely structured to parallel the most commonly used political science textbooks in American politics. Thus, for each standard topic (e.g., "American Political Culture," "Public Opinion," "Congress") there is a corresponding chapter in this volume that focuses on the relationship between religion and that particular topic.

Ted Jelen of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas notes "Corwin Smidt has truly assembled an all-star lineup. The studies in In God We Trust? represent a variety of Christian perspectives, and yet are all balanced, nuanced, and carefully presented. The works contained in this collection will provide first-rate introductions to students approaching these topics for the first time and also contain valuable insights for more advanced scholars."

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