Politics in the Pews

The Political Mobilization of Black Churches
Eric L. McDaniel

Examines the factors underlying the political mobilization of Black churches


As Eric McDaniel demonstrates in his study of Black congregations in the U.S., a church's activism results from complex negotiations between the pastor and the congregation. The church's traditions, its institutional organization, and its cultural traditions influence the choice to make politics part of the church's mission. The needs of the local community and opportunities to vote, lobby, campaign, or protest are also significant factors.

By probing the dynamics of churches as social groups, McDaniel opens new perspectives on civil rights history and the evangelical politics of the twenty-first century. Politics in the Pews contributes to a clearer understanding of the forces that motivate any organization, religious or otherwise, to engage in politics.

Eric L. McDaniel is Assistant Professor in the Department of Government at the University of Texas at Austin.

Praise / Awards

  • "Politics in the Pews probes the internal dynamics of political decision making within the Black church."
    —William E. Nelson Jr., Research Professor, Department of African American and African Studies, Ohio State University

  • "McDaniel offers insights into how these churches have made politics part of their mission, and he gauges their various successes and failures. It seems very timely to have a cogent analysis of this phenomenon, especially with the ascendancy of Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. As the ex-minister where Senator Barack Obama goes to church, Wright has used national exposure he has gotten as a result of his association with Obama to drive home fiery points of black liberation theology...Some people would view Wright's message, forged in the legacy of slavery and continued fight for equal rights, as being essentially political rather than religious. Books like the new one from Professor McDaniel will help readers understand the forces that motivate black churches and their leaders to engage in politics."
    —Eric L. Miller, President of the National Association of Independent Publishers Representatives

  • "Politics in the Pews is an excellent social science analysis of the political nature of the black church. The author has an excellent grasp of the literature on politics and the black church...This book had an opportunity to give us great insights into both politicalized and nonpoliticalized black churches by using more of the responses from both the lay and pastor protocols. Overall, this volume gives us thoughtful insights into how black churches in the twenty-first century think of themselves as being politically engaged."
    —Lorn S. Foster, The AME Church Review

Look Inside

Copyright © 2008, University of Michigan. All rights reserved.

Classroom Resources

Discussion Questions | Word doc

News, Reviews, Interviews

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 224pp.
  • 30 tables, 5 figs.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 2008
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-05046-8

Add to Cart
  • $28.95 U.S.

Related Products



  • Black Church, Religion and Politics, Organizational Psychology, Congregational Studies, Ethnography, Religious Studies, Political Behavior, Collective Action, Urban Politics, Organizational Identity