American Christianity has faced theological-political crises before. Repeatedly, visions of what is possible for the nation have fallen short of reality. In the past, periods of change pushed faithful people to reconsider what they believed, not only about the nation but also about the meaning of God’s call to justice. In each critical moment, for good or ill, Americans altered their religious views, and the horizon of what was possible expanded or contracted.
In revolutionary America, disunity resulted from debates over whether faith required obedience to the king or a revolt.
Twenty years ago the churches in Latin America were viewed as playing a major role in resisting military dictatorships and in developing new revolutionary social models. Recently, attention has shifted to the remarkable growth of Latin American Pentecostal churches. In Brazil, Chile, Guatemala and elsewhere, as many Protestants as Catholics may be in church on any given weekend.
Armed with data from surveys and interviews, Smith skewers the notion that all conservative evangelicals are deeply uncomfortable with American pluralism and eager to impose a fundamentalist Christian worldview.
When Vice President Al Gore picked Joseph Lieberman as his running mate, it was the first-ever selection for a national ticket of a Jewish nominee—and a practicing Orthodox Jew at that. Though in decades past the decision might have been viewed as highly risky, choosing Lieberman was seen quickly as a “plus” for the Democrats.
General Mills recently tucked a CD-ROM containing the Bible into 12 million cereal boxes and then had to issue profuse apologies for having done so as it withdrew the offensive inclusions. GM pleaded not guilty: “we didn’t know it was loaded” with scriptures, they said.