Isaac Kramnick

Isaac Kramnick teaches and writes about political thought at Cornell University. He co-authored The Godless Constitution with R. Laurence Moore.

Recent Articles

Can the Churches Save the Cities?

"Faith-based activism" is very much in vogue, and some church-run programs may be effective at alleviating urban ills. But funding these programs with government money raises troubling constitutional issues. Is there a reasonable middle ground?

A loud chorus now proclaims that America's social ills can be dealt with better by private religious organizations than by government. More than 400 ministries in America, up from 200 just two years ago, participate in the Christian Community Development Association's efforts to revive inner cities through Christian commitment and zeal. Business Week , the New Yorker , Christianity Today , America , and City Limits have devoted long articles to what is described as a veritable urban renaissance sweeping the country thanks to community improvement initiatives by churches, mosques, and synagogues. According to these stories, religious institutions lead effective programs providing social services and encouraging economic development in Chicago, Baltimore, Harlem, Brooklyn, Detroit, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Austin, and Atlanta. Many people would like such "faith-based" social activism to receive not only more private money, but also more government support. A Supreme Court decision...

Is God a Republican?: Why Politics Is Dangerous for Religion

The Christian Coalition has made a dangerous gamble by associating faith with the Republican Party. If God blesses us only as Republicans or Democrats, both politics and religion are in trouble.

SIZE="-1">Illustrations by Taylor Jones T he 1996 campaign has been sobering for Americans who believe that Jefferson's declaration of a "wall of separation" between church and state forms a fundamental point of national agreement. It is hard to recall a presidential contest when religious voices and a religious coalition have intruded in such partisan ways. A poll recently conducted by the Pew Research Center points to a striking change in the attitudes of Americans, especially evangelical Christians, toward mixing religion and politics. Evangelicals were once committed to the view that Christian churches exist primarily to carry out God's work of saving souls; now about 70 percent of evangelicals, both black and white, agree that "churches should express views on social and political matters." This does not necessarily imply an abandonment of belief in church-state separation, but it is a shift that commands our attention. ALIGN="RIGHT" SRC="../images/28kram1.gif" BORDER="0"...