What Evangelicals Really Want
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Paperback / softback
Publisher: University of California Press
Number of Pages: 267
Width: 15.2 cm
Height: 22.9 cm
In recent decades Protestant evangelicalism has become a conspicuous and - to many Americans, worrisome - part of this country's cultural and political landscape. But just how unified is the supposed constituency of the Christian Coalition? And who exactly are the people the Christian Right claims to represent? In the most extensive study of American evangelicals ever conducted, Christian Smith explores the beliefs, values, commitments, and goals of the ordinary men and women who make up this often misunderstood religious group. The result is a much-needed contribution to the discussion of issues surrounding fundamental American freedoms and the basic identity of the United States as a pluralistic nation. Based on data from a three-year national study, including more than 200 in-depth interviews of evangelicals around the country, "Christian America?" assesses the common stereotype of evangelicals as intolerant, right-wing, religious zealots seeking to impose a Christian moral order through political force. What Smith finds instead are people vastly more diverse and ambivalent than this stereotype suggests. On issues such as religion in education, 'family values,' Christian political activism, and tolerance of other religions and moralities, evangelicals are highly disparate and conflicted. As the voices of interviewees make clear, the labels 'conservative' and 'liberal' are too simplistic for understanding their approaches to public life and political action.
"This book is a major contribution, both substantively and methodologically, to understanding America's religious landscape." - Publishers Weekly "An important book." - Library Journal "Who's afraid of the big bad evangelicals? Not Christian Smith, and he suggests that other people shouldn't be, either. Smith's cool-headed and readable book indicates that in this aspect of American life, at least, the sky isn't falling." - Ft. Worth Star-Telegram "Smith's book is based on a three-year national study involving more than 200 extended interviews, as well as polling data. He quickly identifies four fallacies that have distorted many descriptions of evangelicats: that their views can be equated with those of a supposedly united evangelical political elite; that their views are accurately represented by the formulations used in public opinion polling; that their views are ideologically consistent, and that they form a monolithic religious bloc rather than a conglomeration of often bickering subgroups. Professor Smith did not shy from the hot-button questions." - Peter Steinfels, New York Times