Reflections on Scholarship in Religion and Southern Politics

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Over the past generation, the study of religion and politics in the South has undergone a profound transformation. Once the province of specialists in an arcane subfield of the discipline, religious politics is now a central concern to analysts of political life in the American South. Indeed, I am aware of no credible account of the 2000 or 2004 presidential election that does not assign a central role to religious differences among voters. It might well be argued that the principal difference between the “red” states (carried by Republican George W. Bush in both elections) and the “blue” states (carried by Democratic candidates Al Gore and John Kerry, respectively) is the “faith gap” between voters for whom matters of faith are quite salient and their more secular counterparts in the electorate. With issues such as relations with Islamic nations, gay marriage, private school tuition vouchers, and “faith-based initiatives” on the political agenda, it seems likely that religiously based cleavages will animate political conflict in the United States for some time to come.


American Politics | Political Science | Religion