Negotiating Identities : Politics and Religion in the United States
Profound demographic and cultural changes in American society over the last half century have unsettled conventional understandings of the relationship between religious and political identity in the United States. The American religious landscape has become far more complex, not simply because of the blossoming of religious "minorities", but also because of the fracturing of the traditional categories of Protestant, Catholic, and Jew and the increasing prominence of those Americans who claim no religious affiliation at all.
Religion and Political Identity examines the interconnections between religious identities and American political identities. As the "Protestant mainline" continues to shrink in numbers and cultural/political influence, other religious identities are quickly growing and finding their place in American society. A small but rapidly growing American Muslim community struggles for acceptance into the American mainstream. Perhaps most remarkably, the fastest-rising religious demographic in most public opinion surveys is "none." Even the evangelical movement, which powerfully reentered American politics during the 1970s and 1980s and retains a strong foothold in the Republican Party, has undergone generational turnover and is no longer the monolithic bloc it once seemed.
Gutterman and Murphy place the current moment into historical perspective, and reflect on the possible future of religion, politics, and cultural conflict in the United States. The book explores the cultural and political dynamics of the changing American religious landscape, and examines the ways in which evolving notions of national and religious identity undergird them. They argue that questions of religion are questions of identity -- personal, social, and political identity -- and that they function in many of the same ways as race, sex, gender, and ethnicity in the construction of personal meaning, the fostering of solidarity with others, and the conflict they can occasion in the political arena.