The Common Good

Studying Public Religion

Over two millennia Christians have taken a variety of postures toward the state: from sectarian disengagement to the social gospel and from the imperial papacy to state churches. The current wave of conservative American evangelical politics followed long periods of political disengagement, but evangelicals are not uniformly conservative. The evangelical community includes liberals like Jim Wallis and moderates like Richard Cizek and Ron Sider. Contemporary Catholic social action stems from the church’s engagement with the world begun at the Second Vatican Council. Today the American Catholic mosaic includes the Knights of Columbus and seamless-garment Catholics as well as Feminists for Life. Political stereotypes fail to reflect the complexity of attitudes toward politics even in one denomination.