Pastors and Public Life

ISBN : 9780190455507

Corwin E. Smidt
264 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Apr 2016
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Though clergy are clearly important religious leaders within American society, their significance extends far beyond the church doors. Clergy are also important figures within American public life. They are so, in part, because houses of worship stand at the center of American civic life. Gathering to worship is a religious activity, but it is also an important public activity in that, beyond its religious qualities, congregational life brings together relatively diverse individuals for sustained periods of time, frequently on a fairly regular basis. Based on data gathered through national surveys of clergy across four mainline Protestant (the Disciples of Christ; the Presbyterian Church, USA; the Reformed Church in America; and the United Methodist Church) and three evangelical Protestant denominations (the Assemblies of God; the Christian Reformed Church; and, the Southern Baptist Convention), Pastors and Public Life examines the changing sociological, theological, and political characteristics of American Protestant clergy. In this book, Corwin E. Smidt examines what has changed and what has stayed the same with regard to the clergy's social composition, theological beliefs, and perspectives related to the public witness of the church within American society across three different points in time over the past twenty-plus years. Smidt focuses on the relationship between clergy and politics, particularly clergy positions on issues of American public policy, norms on what is appropriate for clergy to do politically, as well as the clergy's political cue-giving, their pronouncements on public policy, and political activism. Written in a manner that makes it accessible to pastors and church laity-yet of interest and value to scholars as well-Pastors and Public Life constitutes the first and only published study that systematically examines such changes and continuity over time.


Introduction The Changing World of Protestant Clergy
Chapter 1 Clergy as Public Actors
Chapter 2 The Social Characteristics of Clergy and the Churches They Serve
Chapter 3 The Theological Orientations of American Protestant Clergy
Chapter 4 The Social Theologies of American Protestant Clergy
Chapter 5 The Positions of Clergy on Contemporary Issues of Public Life
Chapter 6 The Political Norms and Psychological Resources of Clergy
Chapter 7 The Political Activities of Clergy within Congregational Life
Chapter 8 The Political Activism of Clergy
Conclusion Reflections on the Past, Thinking about the Future
Appendix A Number of Respondents and Response Rate by Denomination over Time
Appendix B Validating the Representativeness of the 2009 Cooperative Clergy Survey

About the author: 

Corwin E. Smidt is Senior Fellow at The Paul B. Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity and Politics, Calvin College.

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