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Progressive & Religious: How Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Buddhist Leaders are Moving Beyond the Culture Wars and Transforming American Public Life Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (July 25, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0742562301
  • ISBN-13: 978-0742562301
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,047,689 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Much attention has been paid to the role of the religious right in American politics, but this work offers an account of religious progressives who are seeking to make their own impact on public life. Jones, a scholar at the Center for American Progress, interviewed nearly 100 leaders from the four religious groups enumerated in the subtitle and discovered a diverse and vibrant community committed to issues like social justice, inclusion and economic fairness-a pluralistic hodgepodge Jones describes as "the other religious America." The author briefly depicts the long history of religious progressivism in America, but his book concentrates on contemporary activists, such as Jewish Funds for Justice or the Buddhist Peace Fellowship. Each faith has its own distinctive theological basis for its progressive politics, yet Jones also shows common characteristics, including a relational approach to truth and a belief in the unity of all humanity. This book will cheer religious progressives who believe their voices are underrepresented in the current conversation about faith and politics in America.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

By seeking out and presenting American opinion leaders who are committed to human rights and social justice from their respective religious perspectives, Progressive & Religious is particularly timely in these perilous times of polarization and social regression among religious communities. A pioneering initiative for social change. (Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im, Emory University School of Law)

Through his work with Third Way, Robert Jones has been working hard to heal religious fractures, bringing together political progressives and conservative Christians so they stop culture warfare and start behaving more Christianly toward one another, collaborating for the common good. In Progressive & Religious, he engenders hope for a new day by identifying the growing chorus of voices seeking—in the words of the Hebrew prophets—to beat swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks. (Brian McLaren, author of Everything Must Change)

No one who reads this book will end up doubting the breadth and depth of commitment to progressive visions that are deeply rooted in the wisdoms of the whole spectrum of American religious life; and everyone who reads it will end up knowing a great deal more about both progressive thought and religious life. Hallelu-yah! (director, The Shalom Center, author, Down-to-Earth Judaism, Rabbi Arthur Waskow, director, The Shalom Center, author, Down-to-Earth Judaism)

Let's face it: Jesus was a rabble-rouser. The Hebrew prophets castigated the rich. Muhammad challenged Arabian elites. The Buddha opposed the status quo. By insisting that social injustices and not just personal moral infractions are matters of concern for any religiously grounded ethics, the people and organizations profiled in Robert Jones's Progressive & Religious are challenging dominant visions of religious activism as inherently conservative. It's about time. (Kecia Ali, Boston University)

This is an important book. Robert Jones's Progressive & Religious refutes the falsehood that only conservative evangelicals are seriously religious. It gives a vibrant picture of how American Jews, Christians, Muslims, and Buddhists are uniting deep religious faith and engagement in social justice. (Rosemary Radford Ruether, Claremont School of Theology)

This is an exceptional book. It is both a window into a post-Religious Right America, and an invitation to people from all faith backgrounds and none at all to build what Robert Jones calls ‘a land of new possibilities.’ (Eboo Patel, Interfaith Youth Core, author of Acts of Faith)

Progressive & Religious takes a unique look at the political views of Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Buddhist leaders, and offers an insightful analysis of their diverse perspectives. Any one who cares about the future of American faith-based politics will profit from this excellent book. (John C. Green, University of Akron, Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life)

Progressive & Religious finally puts to rest the myth that one cannot be both religious and politically progressive. This book makes a major contribution to our understanding of religion in public life by highlighting the deep, authentic connections that exist between progressive religious belief and practice on the one hand and a commitment to a politics of the common good on the other. (Rev. Jennifer Butler, Faith and Public Life, author of Born Again)

An illuminating road map to religious re-discovery in contemporary America. With a marriage of journalistic enthusiasm and intellectual rigor, Robert P. Jones skips among the tensions that mar intra-religious relations in our society, smashing erroneous preconceptions and championing a renaissance in the way we look at faith. The result is a thorough examination of religion in modernity that highlights the progressive tendencies shared by ALL faiths in highly readable form. (Imam Feisal Rauf, American Society for Muslim Advancement)

This book is long overdue. Progressive & Religious tells the inspiring story of leaders who are declaring that religion is not simply about personal holiness, but also about public holiness. My hope is that the many religious Americans who recognize their own religious convictions in these pages and become part of this new face of public religion that brings people together and calls for justice for all. (Rev. Leah Daughtry, Democratic National Committee)

Robert P. Jones has put together an instructive analytic survey of the progressive religious movements in the U.S. that should be in front of every newspaper journalist and every spiritual progressive. Sensitive to theological as well as political concerns, Jones has provided a valuable introduction to the contemporary struggle for a progressive spiritual transformation of the world that is taking place in most of the world's religions. (Rabbi Michael Lerner, Tikkun Magazine, The Network of Spiritual Progressives)

In a world plagued by religiously motivated violence, anyone who wishes to become part of the solution and not part of the problem must read Robert Jones' book. Wonderfully written and an enjoyable read, this is a timely, insightful, and critically important book. It should be read and carefully pondered, not only by every Jew, Christian, and Muslim, but by every person who cares about the fate of humanity. (Khaled Abou el Fadl, UCLA School of Law, author of The Great Theft)

Robert Jones understands that progressive faith is not simply a 'left' alternative to the Religious Right, but a bringing together of religious belief and practice with progressive politics. Progressive & Religious convincingly shows how people of many different faiths are creating an authentic social vision for a pluralistic America. I commend this book to all who are seeking to join their faith and politics in working for a better world. (Rev. Jim Wallis, Sojourners, author of The Great Awakening)

Throughout American history, religious voices have played a central role in progressive politics, but we seem to have forgotten that in the last two decades. Robert Jones is one of the most searching, thoughtful, and practical thinkers in the revival of religiously-rooted progressivism, and his book is a great blessing for that cause and for the country. Anyone-left, right or center-who wants a guide to this new movement would do well to spend time with this book. (E. J. Dionne Jr., The Washington Post; author of Souled Out)

Robert Jones has made a significant contribution to the fields of contemporary religious and political studies. In sharing the stories of progressive faith leaders from several different traditions he has helped all of us better understand our commonalities and differences, and the possibility of working together for the common good. (Rabbi Or N. Rose, The Rabbinical School of Hebrew College, author of Righteous Indignation)

This important book is a compelling rebuttal to the widespread bias in our society that the more fundamentalist religious people are, the more authentic they are. Progressive & Religious powerfully reminds us that working as God's partners to heal the world is a profoundly religious task that stands in the mainstream of our religious ethical traditions. (Rabbi David Saperstein, Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism)

Progressive & Religious tells the story of a shared journey toward social holiness. These progressive faith leaders—Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Buddhist—demonstrate a kind of militant tolerance and a passion for healing the world. We religious progressives are finding our voices and testifying to this truth: God loves this world and all that is within it. And we are asking you to do the same. (Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, Chicago Theological Seminary)

Much attention has been paid to the role of the religious right in American politics, but this work offers an account of religious progressives who are seeking to make their own impact on public life. . . . Each faith has its own distinctive theological basis for its progressive politics, yet Jones also shows common characteristics, including a relational approach to truth and a belief in the unity of all humanity. This book will cheer religious progressives who believe their voices are underrepresented in the current conversation about faith and politics in America. (8/13/08 Publishers Weekly)

More About the Author

Dr. Robert P. Jones is the founding CEO of Public Religion Research Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research and education organization specializing in work at the intersection of religion, values, and public life. He is the author two academic books and numerous peer-review articles on religion and public policy.

Dr. Jones is one of six members of the national steering committee for the Religion and Politics Section at the American Academy of Religion and serves on the editorial board for the journal "Religion and Politics," a journal of the American Political Science Association. He is also an active member of the Society of Christian Ethics and the American Association of Public Opinion Research. Before founding PRRI, Dr. Jones worked as a senior research fellow at several think tanks in Washington, DC, and was assistant professor of religious studies at Missouri State University. Dr. Jones's work is frequently featured in major national media, including ABC News, NPR's "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered," Newsweek, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Nation, and others.

A native of the South, Dr. Jones received his Ph.D. in Religion from Emory University with a specialization in social ethics and politics. He also holds an M.Div. from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a B.A. from Mississippi College.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By T. Krattenmaker on December 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
It's gratifying to think of how much has changed since 2004, when publicly applied religion seemed to belong solely to conservatives. In this expertly researched and written book, Robert P. Jones beautifully chronicles how religious progressives are re-asserting themselves in the public square and showing an idealistic face of faith that seemed all but lost in the Bush years.

Submitted by:
Tom Krattenmaker
Religion writer and commentator
Member, USA Today Board of Contributors
Author of ONWARD CHRISTIAN ATHLETES (coming Spring 09)
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Chelle K on April 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover
When people usually think about the mixing of religion and politics, they jump to the idea of the Christian Right, which is one of the most vocal religious groups (if you can call it a group) involved in politics. They also have a huge outreach. For instance, Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs sends out ten monthly magazines to a combined 2.3 million subscribers. James Dobson, the founder of the organization, maintains several other organizations as well that had a combined revenue of $162 million in 2005.

Who would think, then, that there was a religious left, then, with this strong influence of the religious right? Robert P. Jones looked into the phenomenon of religious organizations actually leaning to the left, or simply working towards progress. He outlines many of these organizations, and the religions they belong to, in his book Progressive and Religious.

In this book, he recounts his interviews with many religious leaders that are working towards progress. He recounts how many of them have had issues with the left's insistence that religion be left behind or be kept hidden as the reason of participating in progress. He explains how each of the major religious traditions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism) looks at social progress on the large scale, often because of their religious teachings. After all, he says, Martin Luther King, Jr "was first of all Rev. King, a Baptist minister who skillfully wove biblical lines about "justice rolling down like waters" and "righteousness as a mighty stream" into a new American dream that moved huge segments of our nation to action."

It is certainly an interesting book to read. I know I learned to see many of the similarities between the religious because of their mutual desire to better the world.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Joe Rick on July 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Book provides a welcome counterpoint to religious extremism and religious nihilism.
Book suggests there is growing influence by spiritual progessives. Analysis is both quantiative and qualitaive.
I see his assessment as both realistic (ie not rose colored) and hopeful.
I found the chapter deevoted to progressive Islam in USA to be very insightful.
There were also nuggets of learning on chapters focused on Judaism and Christianity (my faith tradition).
BRAVO!
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2 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Rohit Parikh on April 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I did not find this book an enjoyable read - perhaps my own fault, but it read too much like a very long magazine article. I am afraid I returned the book. Still, I do want to congratulate the author for dealing with an important and difficult subject.
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