Religion and values have turned out to be central issues in Campaign 2000--politicians and voters alike are debating the role that religious faith has in the political process. As the election nears and the debate intensifies, be sure to be up on your reading on this important topic. The following is a compilation of Beliefnet's picks for the best books out there, required reading for anyone who is fascinated with the intersection of religion, values, and politics.

With God On Our Side: The Rise of the Religious Right in America
By William Martin
Broadway Books, 1996
Extremely thorough, this thick volume traces the rise of the religious right from Billy Graham to the Christian Coalition. Sociologist William Martin interviewed key leaders for the book, resulting in helpful portraits of Falwell, Robertson, et.al. as figures as complex as they are controversial.

Onward Christian Soldiers? The Religious Right in American Politics
By Clyde Wilcox
Westview Press, 1996
A helpful book, packed with charts laying out voter turnout, Republican party influence, and evangelical politics by race. Wilcox gives a blow-by-blow analysis of how the religious right came to power--climaxing with the 1995 "Republican Revolution"--and assesses how the religious right may or may not fit into the "proper role" of religious groups in American politics.

What's God Got To Do With the American Experiment?
Edited by E.J. Dionne and John J. DiIulio
Brookings Institution Press, 2000
A compelling collection of essays by thinkers spanning the political spectrum, this new book paints a picture of the current state of religion and politics in America. Among other issues, the moral fallout of the Clinton scandal, the legitimacy of faith-based organizations accepting government funds, and the proper role for religious conservatives on the political scene are discussed astutely and thoroughly.

The Godless Constitution: The Case Against Religious Correctness
By Isaac Kramnick and R. Laurence Moore
W.W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1996
This concise volume puts forth the argument that the Founders of the Constitution intended for there to be strict church-state separation, and that the efforts over the most recent decades to interject religion into political discourse (read: the religious right) are unconstitutional and dangerous.

Religion in Public Life : A Dilemma for Democracy
By Ronald F. Thiemann
Georgetown University Press, 1996
A tightly-written argument in favor of abolishing the separation between church and state, this book advocates religious views being awarded equal social standing to secular political perspectives.

Religion and American Politics: From the Colonial Period to the 1980s
Edited By Mark A. Noll
Oxford University Press, 1990
A historical survey that examines the interaction between religion and politics during various periods of American history. Thorough and engaging, this collection of essays offers insight into current debates through the lens of historical scholarship.

Blinded by Might: Can the Religious Right Save America?
By Cal Thomas and Ed Dobson
Zondervan, 1999
A much-discussed book in which the authors, both key inside players in Moral Majority and other Christian conservative groups, argue that the political arena is too corrupt for well-minded Christians to accomplish righteousness within its borders. The book supports many of the central issues and positions that conservative Christian political activists adopt, but presents a more individualized, personal faith-based approach to solving social problems.

The Naked Public Square: Religion and Democracy in America
By Richard John Neuhaus
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1986
Arguing that conversations about public life and political philosophy are disconcertingly devoid of solid values, Neuhaus urges a focus on Judeo-Christian sources as a foundation for a more lasting public philosophy.

The Culture of Disbelief: How American Law and Politics Trivialize Religious Devotion
By Stephen L. Carter
Doubleday, 1994
Yale Law professor Carter offers a case for admitting religion into public life by arguing that the current legal and political systems force millions of Americans to pretend that their ethical, legal, and political opinions are not formed to some extent by their religious faith. This widely-read book attempts to articulate a balance between church-state separation and the validity of religious faith.

Politics, Religion, and the Common Good
By Martin E. Marty
Jossey-Bass, 2000
The latest contribution by the veteran scholar of public religion Martin Marty, this book is a clean and systematic call for religion to be introduced into political discussions about education, welfare, health care, and finance. Always shrewd and intelligent, Marty weaves together public philosophy, political urgency, and religious insight.

Jewish Dimensions of Social Justice: Tough Moral Choices for Our Time
By Albert Vorspan and David Saperstein
UAHC Press, 1999
This book takes a look at various moral and political issues through the lens of Jewish values of social justice. Helpful and practical, the book highlights the activism of its authors while offering analysis of some pressing social problems.

The Encyclopedia of Politics and Religion
Edited by Robert Wuthnow
Congressional Quarterly, 1998
An impressively comprehensive, if expensive, compendium of information about topics in religion and politics. Arranged by religion, geographic region, event, and individual religious leader, this two-volume set is one-stop shopping for the religio-political enthusiast.

The Soul of Politics: Beyond 'Religious Right' and 'Secular Left'
By Jim Wallis Harcourt, Brace, and Co., 1995
Arguing for a religio-political movement that transcends political party affiliation, this book calls for a new approach that fits neither traditional liberal nor conservative frameworks. Invigorating and passionate, the book offers insight based on Wallis' own experience in Washington, DC's urban ghettos.

Democracy's Discontent : America in Search of a Public Philosophy
By Michael Sandel
Harvard University Press, 1996
A book of political philosophy by the widely-respected Harvard government professor. Sandel argues that morality is an inherent part of democratic politics, and that a renewed sense of citizenship and civic engagement would do much to combat the moral decay that currently confronts society.

The Heart is a Little to the Left: Essays on Public Morality
By William Sloane Coffin
Dartmouth College, 1999
A slim collection of essays by the venerated minister on topics ranging form the politics of compassion to homophobia to civility, democracy, and multiculturalism. The book is a crisp articulation of its author's liberal views.

God at the Grassroots: The Christian Right in the 1994 Elections
Edited by Mark Rozell and Clyde Wilcox
Rowman and Littlefield, 1996
God At the Grassroots is a collection of essays by political scientists, looking at the political mobilization of the Christian Right and their influence on the 1994 congressional elections. These case studies and analyses combine practical descriptions of the political landscape with a more sophisticated understanding of what it all means for the future of American politics.
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