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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Look Inside the World Where Religion and Politics Meet
Our parents may have warned us to avoid talking about religion or politics. Fortunately, Amy Sullivan never got--or never listened to--that warning. Regardless of your political persuasion, The Party Faithful is a fascinating look deep inside a world which the mainstream media for the most part seems afraid to touch or simply does not seem to understand well...
Published on March 6, 2008 by AmericanDreamer

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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars WRONG ON EVERY POINT
Misunderstands religion, misunderstands the problems!, August 16, 2008

This review is from: The Party Faithful: How and Why Democrats Are Closing the God Gap (Hardcover)
Here's Sullivan's take on religion: religion is all about social justice. It should never bother you about your private sexual life. Here's what Sullivan has missed, which is to...
Published on August 16, 2008 by Amazon Customer


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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Look Inside the World Where Religion and Politics Meet, March 6, 2008
This review is from: The Party Faithful: How and Why Democrats Are Closing the God Gap (Hardcover)
Our parents may have warned us to avoid talking about religion or politics. Fortunately, Amy Sullivan never got--or never listened to--that warning. Regardless of your political persuasion, The Party Faithful is a fascinating look deep inside a world which the mainstream media for the most part seems afraid to touch or simply does not seem to understand well.

It is no secret that Democratic party presidential candidates have been hurt by shaky support among Catholic voters and abysmal support among white evangelical Christian voters for most of the period from 1972 on. Catholics, once a solidly Democratic constituency, have preferred the Democratic presidential candidate only in 1996 and 2000 in the seven elections since 1980. And not since Jimmy Carter carried 58% of the white evangelical vote has that group favored Democrats, with no other Democratic nominee since then garnering more than 33% support among this very large demographic.

Sullivan, an evangelical Baptist and a liberal Democrat, maintains it did not and does not need to be so. National editor for Time and formerly editor of the Washington Monthly and a Capitol Hill staffer, she explains how Democrats have missed opportunities to do far better with both groups without compromising their principles--and of how the party is lately showing signs of rapid progress in working its way up that learning curve.

John Kerry, who lost the white evangelical vote 78-22, did not learn that there were evangelical Democrats until after the election. His campaign's approach: "We don't do white churches", even though 40% of evangelicals are politically moderate. Sullivan describes the recent broadening of priorities beyond abortion and gay marriage within the younger generation of politically active evengelicals to include attention to issues such as Iraq, poverty and AIDS in Africa. Many among this new generation of evangelical activists feel used and taken for granted by the Republican party and have put their support up for grabs based on which party can deliver on this expanded range of concerns.

Sullivan likewise believes that Democrats can, and need to, engage Catholic voters on a much broader range of issues and not assume, incorrectly, that Catholic voters are only concerned with abortion and gay marriage. She explains that many Catholic voters are influenced by Church teachings in support of the concept of the Common Good and that this outlook may align better with Democratic party approaches on many economic/social justice and foreign policy issues. But, fearful (not without reason) of being disrupted by anti-abortion rights protesters and a vocal, visible minority of communion-denying far right-wing Catholic officials, many Democratic politicians have declined to engage Catholic audiences. In this regard, I was moved by the account of Rep. Rosa DeLauro's refusal to disengage from her Church, no matter how much her Church has given the back of its hand to her and other pro-choice Catholic Democratic elected officials. DeLauro has been among the leaders seeking to put in place policies which would reduce the number of abortions without overturning Roe v. Wade.

Sullivan describes some of the strategies that, so far applied on a small scale, have already borne impressive results with both groups.

At 220 pages the book is a brisk read. While the author devoted considerable, and quite fruitful, attention, to the abortion issue, I would like to have gotten a similar level of detail and insight on the inside politics of the gay marriage/civil union issue.

Sullivan's sources are impressive. She left me feeling like a fly on the wall as she recounted one vivid anecdote after another involving major players ordinary citizens like me have no, or limited, access to. Marked by a lively reportorial style, a passion for illumination in lieu of condemnation, and sensible positive suggestions for how Democrats and liberals can pick up support among religious voters without losing their souls, The Party Faithful is a winning and hopeful window into that world where politics and religion intersect. As someone who has been trying to educate myself about this subject in recent years, I learned a great deal from this book.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly insightful! A meaningful read!, June 1, 2008
This review is from: The Party Faithful: How and Why Democrats Are Closing the God Gap (Hardcover)
Though a separation of church and state is implied in the Bill of Rights, Sullivan suggests that our country was built on fundamentally religious principles that permeate the lives of all American citizens. Amy Sullivan's poignant book examines the issue of how one political party lost its right to religion. With keen wit and clever insight, Sullivan explores the series of decisions made within the Democratic Party which led to its inability to maintain religious voters.

The author points to key moments throughout history that contributed to the shift of religion in politics. Sullivan notes the importance of the Scopes Trial in disenfranchising evangelical voters from the left and acknowledges the huge role Roe v. Wade played in the democratic loss of catholic voters. She asserts that Bill Clinton's overt religiosity was not enough to inspire people of faith and that John Kerry's seemingly false Catholicism was even more off-putting for religious voters.

Though critical, her book is not without hope. Amy Sullivan suggests that the way for the left to reclaim religion is through compromise. The evangelical movement is not one against liberal ideals and the agenda has actually expanded to include such liberal issues as protection of the environment.

This book is an important one--for anyone of any political affiliation. Though a liberal reader may identify more closely with Sullivan's progressive bias, she expresses ideas on both sides of the political spectrum while providing an important message about modern politics.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kudos to Amy Sullivan, March 16, 2008
By 
J. Jacokes (Washington DC) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Party Faithful: How and Why Democrats Are Closing the God Gap (Hardcover)
For years, as a Democrat and progressive, I have watched the meteoric rise of the religious right. I have been struck by one question "what is it in the psyche of the American public that the Republicans are tapping into and the Democrats have missed?" I couldn't understand the exodus of fellow Catholic voters to support Republicans when so many of that party's policies were hostile to major tenants of Catholic teachings on economic and social justice. I raised this question with my Dad, a semi-retired college professor and political pollster. He too was perplexed. In an attempt to answer this question, a couple of years ago, we began a journey reading about the history of religion in America and its influence on politics and culture. It was not until we read Amy Sullivan's The Party Faithful that we finally got an answer.

One of late Democratic speaker Tip O'Neill's most famous quotes was that if you want someone's vote, "you need to ask for it." Politics 101! It appears that the Democratic Party forgot this very simple rule. They ceded a large group of voters, including historic supporters, because they incorrectly assumed all people of faith are conservatives. The party and its candidates stopped asking for their votes - or worse - pushed these voters away.

Ms. Sullivan's very timely book, describes the events and contemporary rise of the religious right as the Republican's seized a vacuum created by the Democrats. The Party Faithful is exceptionally well written, insightful and an astute social and political commentary. It is an easy read and full of entertaining and tragically true stories of how the Democratic party has bumbled its relationship with constituencies of faith voters. In the wake of the outcome of the 2004 Presidential elections, the book also highlights the actions of a growing group of progressive faith and political leaders to rediscover, build bridges, and redefine the "values voter." This book is a "must read" for all Democrats and anyone interested in the rise of religious right regardless of their religious (or non-religious) beliefs.

The actions of the Democratic party certainly were not unprovoked. The divisive rhetoric of a handful of neo-conservative evangelist leaders and outspoken Catholic bishops certainly exacerbated the situation. By narrowing the scope of issues that defined "good" faithful voters to include only abortion and anti-gay rights, they alienated members of their own faith, widened the cultural and political gaps in our nation, and pushed progressive religious voters of most faiths underground. Issues speaking to the faith values of economic and social justice - which are core to many faith traditions across the theological spectrum --were pushed off the agenda. Tragically and shamefully, over several decades, the actions of these faith leaders created a political environment that led to the de-funding of programs and weakening of laws and regulations that help the poor, safeguard the environment, and protect human rights.

The chapters on Catholics were of great personal interest. It was heartening to learn of the struggles of numerous prominent Catholic elected leaders to balance the internal dilemma of how to be a "good" Catholic and a political progressive at the same time. The chapters on white Evangelicals were also illuminating. Despite my own dislike for the too oft characterization of all Catholics as conservatives, I too had incorrectly assumed all Evangelicals were conservative. It was heartening to learn that, like Catholics, evangelicals run the political spectrum from progressive to conservative.

The impact of religion and political activism has run in cycles over the history of our nation. Ms. Sullivan's book artfully traces the beginning, middle and (hopefully) end of the most recent cycle. In a time when the American people are weary of four decades of political and cultural divisiveness that have torn at the fabric and cohesiveness of our nation, this book is a call for action.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Book, June 21, 2008
By 
Bill (Hartford, CT) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Party Faithful: How and Why Democrats Are Closing the God Gap (Hardcover)
Amy Sullivan obviously did a lot of homework, and she presents a wealth of facts and details in a very readable book that holds one's attention and whizzes by. And if you remember the pivotal presidential elections of 1972, 1976, and 1992, for example--pivotal because they involved religious issues that disrupted the composition of the traditional base of the Democratic Party--then you'll enjoy Sullivan's book even more. A very enjoyable read, and I can't recommend it highly enough.
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7 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Read!, February 20, 2008
This review is from: The Party Faithful: How and Why Democrats Are Closing the God Gap (Hardcover)
Amy Sullivan is one of the smartest commentators at the intersection of religion and politics, and for readers who already appreciate her analysis and wit, this book will live up to their expectations. And for those who have not yet encountered Sullivan's talent for keen observation and lucid prose, The Party Faithful will be a treat. Filled with insider stories and compelling commentary, The Party Faithful is must reading for anyone who wants to understand why Democrats have much more than a prayer in 2008. Conservatives and liberals alike will learn a great deal from Sullivan and her impressive volume, The Party Faithful.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Party Faithful, June 27, 2013
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This review is from: The Party Faithful: How and Why Democrats Are Closing the God Gap (Hardcover)
Book in excellent condition. Publishing date older than I expected, but material still interesting. Value best because author is not just writing about Democratic Party and Christian faith but is personally committed in both cases.
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars WRONG ON EVERY POINT, August 16, 2008
This review is from: The Party Faithful: How and Why Democrats Are Closing the God Gap (Hardcover)
Misunderstands religion, misunderstands the problems!, August 16, 2008

This review is from: The Party Faithful: How and Why Democrats Are Closing the God Gap (Hardcover)
Here's Sullivan's take on religion: religion is all about social justice. It should never bother you about your private sexual life. Here's what Sullivan has missed, which is to misunderstand religion completely: that some people actually believe in God and want to follow his rules.

This is one astonishing book.

How, how could anybody be so tone deaf to the meaning and purpose of religion? Sullivan goes on for page after page and NEVER ONCE discusses the way traditional believers feel about social issues.

Gay marriage? Only mentioned positively. An illegitimacy rate over 40%? Never discussed. The current culture that embraces single parenthood and causes harm to children? Nothing. Euthanasia and the Democratic support for it? Never explained. The removal of religion from the public square, not to mention the persecution of religious symbolism in Christmas? Never discussed. A corrosive culture from Hollywood that is harming children and marriages? Never mentioned.

Oh, she does mention abortion...sort of.

She reminds us of the incident when pro-life Democrat Casey wanted to speak in New York, and a crowd of one more than one hundred, apparently Democratic, protesters "greeted Casey with the chant, 'Racist, sexist, antigay, Governor Casey, go away!'" (p 79).

She tells us that "Many Catholic politicians tried to avoid becoming targets by maintaining a low profile on abortion" (p 75). Apparently it never occurred to them that they could actually vote against abortion.

The Democratic party, finally alert to the fact that they are bleeding religious voters, has sluggishly decided to try and woo some of them back. They just refuse to change any of their major planks to do so.

For example, there is now talk of allowing a pro-life Democrat to speak a the convention. How tolerant of them. But at the same time the anti-Catholic leader of "Catholics for Choice" just praised the Democratic party for having the most hardened pro-choice planks ever.

Not exactly the way I would choose to woo religious voters. And Obama himself voted against allowing babies who survived abortions to be cuddled or given medical aid.

In fact, Sullivan can't actually point to any positions she thinks the Democratic party should, or will, change. She just seems to hope that toning down the rhetoric and pointing to the environment will help.

Here is the looming problem for the Democrats, the one that nobody every mentions: immigrants. Yes, those millions and millions of Hispanics who are flooding our country in vast numbers. Right now, they lean left, because of immigration issues. But what about the future?

What about when they are middle class, and a good number of them are still practicing Catholics? What then, for the Democratic party, when those vast new numbers of Catholics start voting, and they realize that the Democratic stands directly opposed to every moral issue on the floor.

Because that's what the Democrats have decided to be. The party of death. The party that is pro death to the elderly in euthanasia, pro death to babies in abortion.
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5 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The diversion of religion, February 15, 2008
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This review is from: The Party Faithful: How and Why Democrats Are Closing the God Gap (Hardcover)
Amy Sullivan's thoughtful but strange book with regard to where politics and religion stand, at least raises some questions about where certain elements of the population center themselves. Religion in America over the past generation has become a growing and often flawed element of public discussion, giving rise to the fact that there are many more important topics regarding human life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Religion in politics has always been "ginned up" and it surfaces in big ways at odd times in American history. Always passionate, it nonetheless doesn't move the country in substantive ways over a Congress-controlled agenda. Religion often runs out the clock without much significance, "Roe v. Wade", being the exception. I like much of "The Party Faithful", but after reading it, this sounds a lot like a book any one of us might have written in an earlier time. Author Sullivan, too, often neglects larger, generational trends in political life. America is always moving slightly to the left, notwithstanding the rush to embrace current conservative chic as education trumps ignorance and science trumps religion.

"The Party Faithful" at least holds its own but I wonder where that growing number of agnostics is going to land. Sullivan reminds us that the Catholic Church has marching orders for its own "flock" but for the rest of us, individual choices will probably rule the day. Religion may change some things from within but the American public will undoubtedly have the last say.
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6 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars important subject marred by apparent plagiarism, June 21, 2009
By 
a history grad student (Antioch, TN United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Party Faithful: How and Why Democrats Are Closing the God Gap (Hardcover)
I was initially very impressed with the message of this book, but soon became deeply troubled by the apparent plagiarism I discovered. There are identical and near-identical passages in this book from Jeffrey Sheler's "Believers: A Journey into Evangelical America" (2006). Here is one example:

From Believers (p 237):
"For nearly half a century after the Scopes trial in 1925 American evangelicals were essentially absent from the public square. They tended to steer clear of political involvement except for voting--and even that was frowned upon in some fundamentalist circles. Politics was widely regarded as a futile and worldly pursuit that could only distract from the more important business of winning souls to Christ. ... And so evangelicals poured their creative energies and financial resources into building their own churches and parachurch organizations and a supporting infrastructure of Bible colleges and seminaries, publishing houses, and broadcast ministries to disseminate the gospel."

From The Party Faithful (p 25):
"In the trial's aftermath the political momentum to ban the teaching of evolution collapsed. ... the humiliated fundamentalists retreated from the public square and from the Protestant mainstream.

But they did not disappear. For the next two decades they poured their creative energies and financial resources into building their own churches and denominations and a supporting infrastructure of Bible colleges, seminaries, publishing houses, and broadcast ministries--all apart from the Protestant establishment. They tended to avoid political involvement except for voting, and even that was frowned upon in some fundamentalist circles. Politics was widely regarded as a futile and "worldly" pursuit that could only distract from the more important business of winning souls to Christ."

[For another, longer, example see Believers pp 238-240 vs. Party Faithful, 42-44]
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The Party Faithful: How and Why Democrats Are Closing the God Gap
The Party Faithful: How and Why Democrats Are Closing the God Gap by Amy Sullivan (Hardcover - February 19, 2008)
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