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Are Conservative Ties Helping or Hurting U.S. Religion?


NEW YORK—If the growing alliance between many religious groups and conservative politics in the United States endures, will religion come out the winner or the loser?  A high-profile panel of Washington commentators and academic experts, moderated by Bill Blakemore, veteran ABC correspondent, will address that question at a forum on “Conservative Politics and the Future of Religion,” on Wednesday, Feb. 1, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in Pope Auditorium on the Lincoln Center campus.

The diverse panel will include Washington columnist and political commentator E. J. Dionne Jr., author of Why Americans Hate Politics and co-editor of One Electorate Under God: A Dialogue on Religion and Politics, along with evangelical scholar Michael Cromartie of the Ethics and Public Policy Institute, editor of Religion and Politics in America and A Public Faith: Evangelicals and Civic Engagement.

Also on the panel are Boston University sociologist Nancy T. Ammerman, Ph.D., author of Baptist Battles: Social Change and Religious Conflict in the Southern Baptist Convention, and Patrick Allitt, Ph.D., a professor of history at Emory University, whose books include Catholic Intellectuals and Conservative Politics in America, 1950-1985 and Religion in America Since 1945.

TIME:         5:30 – 6:30 P.M.

“Everyone has been either bemoaning or welcoming the political fallout of the successful conservative strategy of mobilizing faith groups,” observed Margaret O’Brien Steinfels, co-director of the Fordham Center on Religion and Culture, which has organized the event.  “But the more important issue may well be the impact of this working alliance on religion itself and its future presence in American public life.”

Conservative religious leaders as well as liberal ones, she pointed out, have increasingly been raising questions about the long-run implications for religion of a political-religious conservatism that has changed the landscape of American politics and bolstered a Republican majority in Washington.

The reasons for that convergence, as well as its consequences, will be in the spotlight at the Feb. 1 event:
• What political and religious interests prompted this alliance?
• What options did conservative religious groups have for bringing their moral concerns to the public square?
• Is liberal criticism of conservative political and religious links legitimate—or just another partisan example of  whose ox is being  gored?

Admission is free and open to the public, although those planning to attend are advised to R.S.V.P. to

The Fordham Center on Religion and Culture was established in 2004 to explore questions arising at the intersection of religious faith and contemporary culture.  The center’s co-directors are Peter Steinfels, author and former New York Times religion correspondent, and Margaret O’Brien Steinfels, journalist in residence at Fordham University and former editor of Commonwealmagazine.


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