Filled with Spirit and Power
Protestant Clergy in Politics
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Explores the many factors shaping the level of political involvement displayed by urban Protestant clergy.
In Filled with Spirit and Power, Laura R. Olson explores the variety of orientations urban Protestant clergy display regarding political involvement, as well as the many factors that shape their activity. In the typical urban setting of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the choices pastors make about political involvement are shaped in a profound way not only by their specific religious traditions, but also by the socioeconomic status of the neighborhoods in which they serve. Pastors who serve in economically disadvantaged central city neighborhoods spend the most time on politics, because they come into contact with poverty and its consequences on a daily basis.
Laura R. Olson is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Clemson University. She is coauthor of Religion and Politics in America: Faith, Culture, and Strategic Choices and coauthor of The Religious Dimension of Political Behavior: A Critical Assessment and Annotated Bibliography.
"The author uses diverse methods (census data, contextual analysis, and excellent open-ended interviews) to investigate some important questions about clergy involvement in politics. The book demonstrates a solid research methodology, a sensitivity to social contexts, and accurate reporting of what clergy think and what it means. " — Christopher P. Gilbert, coeditor of Religious Institutions and Minor Parties in the United States
"The 'ethnographic' aspects of the study are clearly its best part and the greatest contribution to scholarship on the role of clergy in politics. Very few political scientists make the effort that Olson has made to get inside the head of their respondents, attempting to see their political world as they see it. Her ability to address important questions while still allowing her subjects to speak for themselves is impressive. I also like the logical flow of the material, and the informed connections she makes between her study and other work in contemporary political science, in areas ranging from political socialization to media politics. This book is extremely well written. " — James L. Guth, coauthor of The Bully Pulpit: The Politics of Protestant Clergy