Journal Article

A (More) Perfect Union? Religion, Politics, and Competing Stories of America

Ruth Braunstein

in Sociology of Religion

Volume 79, issue 2, pages 172-195
Published in print May 2018 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online April 2018 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/socrel/sry013
A (More) Perfect Union? Religion, Politics, and Competing Stories of America

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Abstract

Donald Trump’s calls to “Make America great again” loosely unified a Republican coalition divided over policy, priorities, and style. In contrast, Democrats in 2016 were divided between two stories about America. Progressives today seek a new narrative that can unite their ideologically and socially diverse coalition while also providing a compelling alternative to Trump’s account of national decline. This article argues that one such narrative already exists. It is most closely associated today with a diverse set of progressive religious leaders including Rev. William J. Barber II. This narrative differs from Trump’s in terms of its portrayal of the country’s historical trajectory, American identity and belonging, and citizens’ responsibilities to the American democratic project. Presidential elections are as much about disagreements over the American story as they are about policy differences. Attention to these competing stories offers new insights into the 2016 election and the role that progressive religious leaders are playing in the resistance movement that has emerged in its aftermath.

Keywords: Trump; Obama; civil religion; politics; social movements/collective behavior; narrative

Journal Article.  11191 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Social Research and Statistics ; Sociology of Religion

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