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Mobilizing Religious Interests


Certain common ways of thinking about religion may spill over into politics. ... have long used the secular media and religiously oriented media to communicate ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Mobilizing Religious Interests

Mobilizing Religious Interests
  • Religion can be a particularly potent resource
    for political mobilization and participation.
  • There are at least 120 non-profit organizations
    in the US that seek to influence polity
    formulations from a religious perspective. These
    types of religious groups act much like other
    secular interest groups attempting to influence
    the policy process. Ex. Christian Coalition of
    America http// and

(No Transcript)
Religious Interests and Culture
  • Culture (and religion as a potent communicator of
    culture) performs 3 primary functions (1) it
    offers identity, (2) it prescribes norms, and (3)
    it defines boundaries for relationships.
  • Religion has so much political potential because
    it prescribes not only how we as individuals
    should live but also suggests the nature of the
    just society.
  • Karl Marx said religion was the opiate of the
    masses but religion can be the catalyst for
    tremendous societal change.

Sources of Motivation
  • Group identity religion construct collective
    identities, which can serve as powerful
    motivations for political participation because
    group identifications provide cognitive
    structures through which the world can be viewed.
  • Group status according to Weber, economic status
    is partially a function of religion. Since the
    beginning of capitalism in Europe, Protestants
    have been more successful than Catholics
    economically because Protestants embraced
    religious values that transformed work from
    drudgery into a calling through which glorify
    God. While Catholics were viewing poverty as a
    sign of grace, Protestants understood material
    gain to be an indication of salvation and favour
    with God.

Sources of Motivation Theology
  • Religious groups become politically active
    because they desire congruence between their
    religious perspectives and public policies.
  • Certain common ways of thinking about religion
    may spill over into politics. A conservative
    approach to religion may support a conservative
    approach to politics.
  • An emphasis on sinfulness as the essential
    condition of humankind seems quite compatible
    with a skeptical orientation toward the prospect
    of improving conditions through political action.
    Similarly, if human pleasures are judged inferior
    to spiritual rewards, there is little urgency
    about improving material conditions. The liberal
    belief in social sin and the dignity of earthly
    existence, which contrast sharply with
    conservative religious assumptions, spurs efforts
    to eradicate structural barriers to justice and
    to improve the material conditions of life.
    Belief in a warm, caring God who is part of the
    world tend to enhance commitment to social
    welfare, whereas the image of a cold and
    authoritative deity lends support to governments
    role in securing order and property.

Sources of Motivation Theology
  • Liberal faith Judaism venerates learning and
    charity as major virtues and is relatively silent
    about the origin of sin and the prospect of life
    and death. That combination of values encourages
    optimism about the human condition and a sense of
    urgency about the application of reason to human
    problems. It seems almost to demand social and
    political involvement on behalf of liberal
  • Lutheran thought treats humans as creatures of
    passion and sin who should not interfere with the
    divine plan for the world. Lutherans accept the
    world as it is because true happiness for man and
    total release from the bondage of sin are not
    possible until after death. This is also way
    Lutherans have a pronounced economic, social,
    racial, and political conservatism.

Sources of Motivation Institutional Interests
  • Institutional interests provide the final source
    of motivation for the political engagement of
    religious faith. Denominations, faith-oriented
    communions and associations, individual churches
    and synagogues, interest groups, religious
    schools, religious broadcasters, religious social
    service providers, and charitable organizations
    all have a stake in particular public policies
    and may attempt to mobilize constituents in
    support of their causes. While ostensibly acting
    on behalf of the public good, all are
    simultaneously institutions with a more narrow
    economic and ideological interests as well.

Establishing Means the role of Elites
  • The discontent must be framed and organized in a
    manner that supports political activity. It makes
    sense to think of grievances as latencies, tools
    that are available for exploitation by strong or
    aspiring leadership (clergy and leaders of
    organized interest groups). People may hold their
    pastors ideas in particular esteem and give his
    or her issue positions more credibility than
    positions they hear through some other medium.
    Ministers views not only inform their own
    activity they can shape the perspectives of
    their congregations.

Establishing Means Clergy as Political Leaders
  • Clergy might send political messages. Ministers
    views not only inform their own activity they
    can shape the perspectives of their
    congregations. They are by definition opinion
    leaders. They think ideologically, can
    communicate their positions through religious
    culture, have access to institutional resources,
    and have an audience who voluntarily comes to
    hear what they have to say. Ex. Civil Rights
    movement and Martin Luther King

Martin Luther King, Jr. 1929-1968 Baptist
Minister In 1963 March on Washington he delivered
his Have a Dream speech. In 1964 receive the
Nobel Peace Prize.
Establishing Means Religious Activists
  • Another major set of opinion leaders in the
    religious community are activists in religiously
    based organizations or interest groups. While
    clergy may episodically focus on politics, their
    essential responsibility is to meet and care for
    the spiritual needs of their congregations.
    However, the primary orientation of religiously
    based activists is centered on public policy.
  • Religious activists have long used the secular
    media and religiously oriented media to
    communicate their perspective and to
    differentiate themselves from other subcultures
    in society (Ex. Pat Robertson http//
    and http// )

Establishing Means Community Activists
  • Community activists are harnessing the potential
    of religious faith to organize people to address
    the material realities of their lives. Working
    through congregations, these organizers use
    religious practices, worldview, and culture to
    address the concerns of their communities.
  • Elites use religious culture to frame and
    contextualize grievances (deriving from
    structural inequality) and employ religious
    resources to organize and strengthen in
    individual resolve to do something about them.