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Conservative Christianity In The USA: Interpretive And Normative Perspectives

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Chapter Summary

In the USA, religion has been important over the past three decades in political culture. This chapter begins by examining empirical research on religious affiliation and voting behaviour, giving special attention to conservative Protestantism. It then explores two interpretive frameworks to explain these patterns, offered by two prominent American sociologists. The chapter places these frameworks in a model of practical theology that involves four distinct, but interrelated tasks: the descriptive-empirical, interpretive, normative, and pragmatic. While giving special attention to competing understandings of evangelicalismin American public life, it raises normative questions that flow from these different interpretations. James Hunter's and Christian Smith's interpretation of evangelicalism raise different normative issues. Addressing such issues is the normative task of practical theology in which constructive theological and ethical proposals are developed about what ought to take place in response to cultural polarization.

Keywords: Christian Smith; evangelicalismin; James Hunter; practical theology; USA



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