Official listing on Penn Press website

I’ve had a terrific experience with the University of Pennsylvania Press in bringing this book project to completion. Please head over to their website to check out the official listing of Moral Minority. And be sure to check out their other titles. They’ve got strong lists in human rights, Politics and Culture in Modern America, and Early American Studies.

The Chicago Declaration

In all my research, I never came across a good photo of the meeting, so this picture of Chicago YMCA from the 1920s will have to do.

The narrative of Moral Minority is structured around a meeting. Doesn’t sound promising, I know, except that there’s a gunshot (buy the book!). The meeting of several dozen progressive evangelical activists took place on Thanksgiving weekend in 1973 at a YMCA in downtown Chicago. It was a kind of coming-out party for the evangelical left, and major newspapers covered the gathering. The Washington Post reported that delegates sought to “launch a religious movement that could shake both political and religious life in America.” At the end of the weekend, delegates released a hard-hitting manifesto called the Chicago Declaration that confessed that evangelicals “have not proclaimed or demonstrated [God’s] justice to an unjust American society.”

My thick description of the Chicago meeting is located in Chapter 9 of Moral Minority. The last four chapters describe how the evangelical left failed to live up to the initial promise of the Chicago Declaration (why it became a moral minority instead of a moral majority). The first eight chapters, on the other hand, describe the emergence of the evangelical left in the years leading up to the 1973 Chicago Declaration–and the excitement over its significant potential. Each of these chapters is organized around biographical sketches of key delegates at the YMCA meeting in Chicago. Jim Wallis embodied the antiwar impulse of the evangelical left, Sharon Gallagher a communal impulse, Senator Mark Hatfield an electoral impulse, and so on. Over the next several months leading up to Moral Minority’s publication, I’ll be highlighting these important progressive evangelicals. Stay tuned . . .

Welcome to new visitors

Welcome! The immediate purpose of this site is to publicize my upcoming book, Moral Minority, which will be released in September by Penn Press. If you continue to visit (and I hope you do!), you’ll see updates as the publication date approaches, and I’ll let you know when and where the book is on sale.

I’ll also use this space to introduce characters–such as Sharon Gallagher, Samuel Escobar, Richard Mouw, Ron Sider, and Jim Wallis–who appear in the book. Many of them continue to work on behalf of peace, the environment, immigrants, women, and the poor. I’ll periodically make note of their activities, as well as those of a vibrant set of younger moderate and progressive evangelicals, such as Rachel Held Evans, Jonathan Merritt, Matthew Soerens, Shane Claiborne, and many others. And as the 2012 election nears, I’ll offer general commentary on the ever-intriguing role of faith in American culture and politics. But I’ll focus primarily on non-rightist sectors.

So stay tuned for links, book excerpts, photos, videos, and the like. Please feel free to interact by commenting and following the activity here via Facebook, email, and Twitter. You can link and follow and like in the panel on the right.

–David