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Red State Religion: Faith and Politics in America's Heartland Hardcover – December 4, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


Finalist for the 2013 Christianity Today Awards in Christianity and Culture

"Robert Wuthnow, a brilliant sociologist of religion and himself a native of Kansas, gives us a careful sociological history of the intertwining of religion and politics in this quintessential red state. . . . In Wuthnow's nuanced and careful study, Kansans come across less as hayseeds or off-the-wall moralizers than as pragmatic conservatives, committed to traditional families and fiscal conservatism. They are skeptical of big government and dedicated to preserving simple and vital virtues. Wuthnow has penned a 'must read' book for those who would understand--and not just caricature--red state religion and how it intertwines with politics."--John A. Coleman, America

"With the publication of Red State Religion, we profit greatly from a majestically comprehensive account of Kansas' history. In turn, we get a truer story, one that inspires a less ideological reading of the state, perhaps freeing Kansans themselves from any notion of how they must think--or vote."--Alexander Heffner, Philadelphia Inquirer

"[Red State Religion] thoughtfully and compassionately explores the rich and complex political and religious history of the place."--Rebecca Barrett-Fox, Christian Century

"Red State Religion is a model of clarity and is surely one of the best books available on the intersection of religion and politics."--Al Menendez, Voice of Reason

"Elegantly written, passionately argued, and deeply researched, Red State Religion challenges our basic assumptions about the influence of the Religious Right in particular, and the role of religion in American politics more generally."--Andrew Preston, Journal of Ecclesiastical History

"[Wuthnow] takes Kansas state conservatism seriously in grounding his conclusions in archival research rather than journalistic sensationalism."--Choice

"Wuthnow does an excellent job tracing the development of religious institutions in the state."--James E. Sherow, Great Plains Research

From the Back Cover

"Robert Wuthnow's study of religion and public life in Kansas--from controversies over the Kansas-Nebraska Act in the 1850s to strife over abortion, evolution, and gay rights in the 2000s--is thoughtful, fact-filled, empathetic, often moving, and always informative. When he addresses the hackneyed question, 'what's the matter with Kansas?' his answer eschews simplistic blue state-red state stereotyping in favor of patient attention to moderate Methodists and Catholics and a historically flexible Republican Party, along with careful explanation of when and how that moderation began to give way. This is sparkling history."--Mark A. Noll, author of God and Race in American Politics: A Short History

"Scrutinizing Kansas's red state religion, Wuthnow discovers a complex, compassionate, and balanced approach to social goods and moral choices. Upending stereotypes about his home state's embrace of the Religious Right, he reveals that the beating heart of the heartland is devotion to church and community."--Diane Winston, USC Annenberg School for Communication

"This is a fascinating portrait of the interplay between religion and politics in the Midwest over the past 150 years. It also provides a necessary corrective to accounts that have long portrayed Kansas as a monolithic cultural backwater populated by dupes who cannot grasp their own interests. As a native son, Robert Wuthnow has an understanding of Kansas that runs deep; as a leading scholar, he provides an analysis with broad implications. This is an illuminating and impressive book."--Brian Steensland, Indiana University

"Red State Religion is an impressive work. In contrast to the simple headline-grabbing arguments that something is the matter with Kansas, Robert Wuthnow starts from the beginning to understand the current confluence of religion and politics in his home state. Drawing on an enormous range of sources and data, he uses his nearly unrivaled ability to explore important debates and to set them in the context of compelling stories of the lives of ordinary people."--Paul A. Djupe, Denison University


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 504 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (December 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691150559
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691150550
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,351,500 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By P. M. Waggoner on July 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Robert Wuthnow, America's leading church historian, has written a finely crafted piece on his native state (Kansas), that covers the often misunderstood intersection of religion and politics. This book is an indirect refutation of the confused 2004 work of Thomas Frank, "What's the Matter With Kansas?". Kansas/Midwestern political types would be wise to read this, Church historians who want to see an excellent local study, and any native Kansans who want a better grasp on their home-states many social/historical nuances.
Bleeding Kansas was a cultural bell-weather in the 1850s with militant abolitionists, in the 1880s-90s with populist discontent, and in the early 20th century with the (then) progressive appeal for prohibition. Wuthnow brings out the religious underbelly of how Catholics and Methodists (Kansas two largest denominations) were part of this historical process. He does a lot of small statistical studies to prove/disprove popular stereotypes (check his footnotes and you will be amazed how many numbers he crunches).
Wuthnow is very attuned to changes in religious demographics (as caught in the 1896-1936 Federal Religious censuses, and since 1950 by Glenmary researchers every decade report-the 2010 version is now out). He charts the post 1930s rise of Southern Baptists (Vs. American); Churches of Christ (vs. Disciples) and the various parts of the evangelical coalition that have (in the last 20 years)now displaced the old "mainline" Protestant churches as the dynamo in Kansas Christianity.
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Red State Religion: Faith and Politics in America's Heartland
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