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Moral Minority: The Evangelical Left in an Age of Conservatism (Politics and Culture in Modern America) Paperback – March 6, 2014


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Product Details

  • Series: Politics and Culture in Modern America
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press; Reprint edition (March 6, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812223063
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812223064
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #680,322 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Moral Minority is a vivid topography of a little-understood corner of evangelical thought."—New York Times



"In this remarkably rigorous, richly contextualized, and generally exhaustive exploration of the evangelical Left, David R. Swartz returns readers to a time when theologically conservative Protestantism was 'politically up for grabs.'"—Journal of American History



"David Swartz has written a book of colorfully portrayed characters and credible storyline that strikes an elegant balance between politics, theology, social history and biographical narratives."—American Society of Church History



"In this superbly written study, David Swartz offers an excitingly fresh and compelling look at evangelical activists who forged a different ideological path in the age of Nixon and Reagan, one that veered left, away from the rightward trends of their day. Blending big-picture perspective with the colorful insight of biography, Swartz vividly describes his subjects' gospel of social justice and their struggles to win their church over to this progressive faith. In doing so, he force­fully reminds us that modern evangelicalism is neither monolithic nor static in its political persuasions and quest for impact. As both good history and timely observation, this is an important book."—Darren Dochuk, author of From Bible Belt to Sunbelt: Plain-folk Religion, Grassroots Politics, and the Rise of Evangelical Conservatism



"Swartz restores the evangelical left to its important place in the annals of post-sixties American evangelicalism. A striking work of research, recovery, and analysis, Moral Minority will stand as an essential contribution to the new history of American evangelicalism."—Steven P. Miller, author of Billy Graham and the Rise of the Republican South

About the Author

David R. Swartz teaches history at Asbury University.

Customer Reviews

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The right story told at the right time can make all the difference.
Marty Troyer (The Peace Pastor
David R. Swartz's Moral Minority is a scholarly work focused on a topic often discussed outside academia.
bcallison
This was an intensely exciting book to read, eminently readable with clear and fast-moving prose.
knburch

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Miller on September 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This account of the rise and demise of the evangelical left in the 1970s is more than a cogent recovery of a nearly forgotten alternate Christian vision to the Jerry Falwell-led Moral Majority that exploded onto the national scene in 1979 and helped propel Ronald Reagan into political office. Through archival research into primary documents and letters, and augmented with original interviews of still-living framers of this social-justice evangelical coalition, Swartz shines a light on the less-publicized but always present minority impulse within the movement toward a holistic gospel ethic that would translate into a prophetic political stance on the social and moral and political issues of the day. The work provides a requisite historical antecedent for anyone trying to make sense, for example, of the 25 percent of white evangelical Americans who voted for Barack Obama in the 2008 elections and the similar percentage supporting Obama in the weeks just prior to the 2012 presidential elections.

Clearly a scholarly investigation, the writing is almost journalistic in its flow and ability to tie together apparently unrelated figures and players in the struggle for the soul of evangelical identity and praxis. Here's a sample from just one paragraph in the book:

"They came from diverse traditions, nurtured different impulses, and pursued disparate projects. In the early 1970s, however, they began to find each other. In 1970 African American evangelical Bill Pannell traveled to Costa Rica to tell Latin Americans about the black experience in the United States.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Marty Troyer (The Peace Pastor on October 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The right story told at the right time can make all the difference. Knowing this, great storytellers take as much care in selecting the right story as they do in crafting its telling. David Swartz, author and historian at Asbury University, has done just that in his newly released book, Moral Minority: The Evangelical Left in an Age of Conservatism.

This is a story many of us didn't know we wanted and needed to read, a story many didn't know existed. It's a story "chronicling the rise, decline, and legacy of the evangelical left."

But it's so much more than that. It's the story of what it looks like to merge progressive politics with deep personal piety; the story of "holistic concern for both evangelism and social action;" the story of a full 1/3 of evangelicals who do not find their voice in the religious right; the story of an awakening to social concern and the presence of social evil; it's the story of evangelical politics which very much could have taken a profoundly progressive shape; it's the story of a deeply diverse evangelicalism unwilling to fit neatly into caricatures; and its the story of what it might look like to love both God and neighbor with equal abandon.

This is a good story.

The bulk of the book seeks to sort from whence such a progressivism comes, weaving individual and organizational narratives into the whole, with chapters on Carl Henry and Neo-Evangelical Social Engagement, John Alexander and Racial Justice, Jim Wallis and Vietnam, Mark Hatfield and Electoral Politics, Sharon Gallagher and Spiritual Community, Samuel Escobar and the Gblobal perspective, Richard Mouw and Evangelical Politics, and Ron Sider and Economics. Each chapter, itself a story, is fantastic.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By George P. Wood VINE VOICE on February 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In America, white evangelicals are politically conservative. Seventy-nine percent of white evangelicals who voted in 2012, for example, cast their presidential ballot for Republican Mitt Romney, matching George W. Bush's share of white evangelical voters in 2004. So connected in the public mind have evangelicalism and conservatism become that it's hard for many to imagine any other state of affairs. Indeed, many white evangelicals themselves have a hard time imagining how any Christian could vote for a Democrat.

Forty years ago, that state of affairs was easier to imagine. On November 25, 1973, a group of moderate and liberal evangelicals issued "The Chicago Declaration of Social Concern," which began with these words:

"As evangelical Christians committed to the Lord Jesus Christ and the full authority of the Word of God, we affirm that God lays total claim upon the lives of his people. We cannot, therefore, separate our lives from the situation in which God has placed us in the United States and the world."

The declaration went on to acknowledge, "we have not demonstrated the love of God to those suffering social abuses." It critiqued American evangelicals' quiescence regarding "the social and economic rights of the poor and oppressed," "the historic involvement of the church in America with racism" in terms of both "personal attitudes" and "social structures," "the materialism of our culture and the maldistribution of the nation's wealth and services," "the misplaced trust of the nation in economic and military might," and the "prideful domination" of men and "irresponsible passivity" of women.
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More About the Author

David R. Swartz is Assistant Professor of History at Asbury University. Areas of expertise and teaching interest include American religious history, twentieth-century American politics, global religion, and issues of war and peace.

Follow his blog on progressive politics and faith at http://moralminoritybook.com/

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