Politics and Church: Byproduct or Central Mission?
Version of Record online: 12 MAR 2008
2008 The Society for the Scientific Study of Religion
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion
Volume 47, Issue 1, pages 45–62, March 2008
How to Cite
DJUPE, P. A. and GILBERT, C. P. (2008), Politics and Church: Byproduct or Central Mission?. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 47: 45–62. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-5906.2008.00391.x
- Issue online: 12 MAR 2008
- Version of Record online: 12 MAR 2008
One of the more intriguing paradoxes that has developed in mainline Protestantism over the last 30 years is that mainline clergy have become more politically active. Since the public politicking of mainline clergy in the late 1960s generated storms in the churches, why would clergy become more politically active over time? In this article, we adopt the theoretical structure of a benefit exchange between leaders and members initiated by Mancur Olson. We seek to determine the extent to which church members' appetites for political action by the clergy are shaped by a satiating selective benefit exchange or are driven largely by political compatibility. We propose that because of continued political disagreement between clergy and church members and considerable disapproval of clergy involvement in politics by church members, clergy politicking is allowed largely by the satisfaction of a selective benefit exchange.