Randall Balmer

Randall Balmer on Politics and the Pulpit

In an opinion piece in the Sunday, October 30, Valley News, Professor Randall Balmer observes that "leaders of the Religious Right in recent years...have been pushing for a repeal of the Johnson Amendment [a provision in the tax code that prohibits tax-exempt organizations from openly supporting political candidates, passed by Congress in 1954 and named for Lyndon Johnson, then a U.S. senator]." The Religious Right argues that "pastors should be able to make political endorsements from the pulpit without jeopardinzing their churches' tax exemptions [and]the fact that they cannot now do so...represents an infringement on their religious freedom." Balmer argues, however, that "the Johnson Amendment is a good idea and should not be repealed.

The Paradoxes of Ted Cruz

By almost any reckoning, argues Prof. Randall Balmer in his April 19, 2016, article in Religion & Politics, Ted Cruz's campaign for the Republican presidential nomination presents voters with several paradoxes. But the paradox that most intrigues Prof. Balmer is Cruz's ties to evangelicalism: "Of all the paradoxes that surround Ted Cruz, [his] flouting of the teachings of Jesus may be his defining paradox. The man who, more than any other candidate this year, has staked his claim to evangelical piety nevertheless ignores the teachings of the man [Jesus] he claims to emulate."

Gender Gap: Why Are Women More Religious?

Religion professors Zahra Ayubi and Randall Balmer were guests on New Hampshire Public Radio's "Exchange" program commenting on a new study by the Pew Memorial Trust that finds that while Americans overall tend to be more religious compared to people in other developed countries, the commitment is especially high among U.S. women, whether it's attending worship services or engaging in daily prayer.

Grassley, Ayotte and the Burden of History

By vowing to block any Supreme Court nominee the president sends to Congress, New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte and fellow Republicans are reinforcing the partisan gridlock that has paralyzed the nation for more than a decade, argues Randall Balmer in his Sunday, March 20, opinion piece in the Valley News, "Grassley, Ayotte and the Burden of History."  Instead, he urges Senator Ayotte to "fulfill her duties regardless of the political rancor she might incur from fellow Republicans. Even such a modest effort in these fraught political times counts as an act of courage." "Like Chuck Grassley [chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee], Kelly Ayotte's rendezvous with history has arrived. She can be remembered as simply another political hack, like Mitch McConnell or Harry Reid, or she can be remembered as a leader, one who faced down the rabid partisans in Congress and said 'Enough! I intend to lead, not stumble blindly along the pathway of political obstruction in the name of party loyalty.'"

Evangelicals' Support of Trump Shouldn't Come as a Surprise

In an op-ed column in today's Los Angeles Times, Professor Randall Balmer observes that over the past several decades, evangelicals have become increasingly secular, more interested in the pursuit of wealth and political influence than fidelity to the teachings of Jesus, and that "it should come as little surprise that the candidate of choice for evangelicals so far in this 2016 election season is a twice-divorced, thrice-married billionaire famous for firing people on TV, who belittles the disabled and advocates policies - on immigration, for example, or the environment - utterly at odds with the 'biblical values' evangelicals purport to uphold."

"Dear Marco Rubio..."

"Dear Marco Rubio: Welcome to New Hampshire," writes Randall Balmer in his January 10, 2016, Valley News opinion piece. "It's come to my attention that you've been assailing the liberal arts on the campaign trail....Today, the liberal arts encompass, as Merriam-Webster defines it, 'areas of study (such as history, language, and literature) that are intended to give you general knowledge rather than to develop specific skills needed for a profession,'" he continues. "I'm sure you'll find a few voters here who will cheer your excoriations of the liberal arts; anti-intellectualism, after all, has a long and storied history in the United States. But you'll find others - many, many more, I hope - who believe that critical thinking is not such a bad thing, that it might even be crucial to the future of a democratic society."

Randall Balmer on Comprehending History, Culture, Through Religion

In an interview for Dartmouth Now, Professor Randall Balmer, recently named the John Phillips Professor in Religion (the oldest endowed professorship at Dartmouth), asserts that "I don't believe that you can understand American history and culture without understanding the role of religion, and that has informed my intellectual agenda. And religion in America has been profoundly shaped by the cultural and historical context of the United States, so that interests me as well."

Randall Balmer on Pope Francis

"The visit of Pope Francis to Capitol Hill this week promises to be good theater. It also will lay bare some of the polarities of the political system in the United States. In the context of American politics, which views everything and everyone in relentlessly dualistic terms – conservative and liberal, Republican and Democrat – Francis gives both sides something to cheer. Conservatives applaud his condemnation of abortion. Liberals embrace his warnings about climate change, his attention to economic inequality and his advocacy for the poor, including immigrants." observes Religion Professor Randall Balmer in his analysis of the role of Roman Catholic popes in United States history in the September 23 issue of The Conversation.

 

Professor Randall Balmer on presidential candidate Mike Huckabee

Dartmouth Now reports that in a Los Angeles Tmes opinion piece, Professor Randall Balmer says that Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is employing rhetoric that casts members of the religious right as victims of intolerance who are scorned for what they believe, and could even be jailed for it. Balmer writes, "Whereas a candidate such as Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky worries about personal liberties, Huckabee warns about religious persecution. 'I came to New Hampshire to announce that I will fight for your right to be left alone,' Paul declared at the beginning of his campaign." Professor Balmer will be teaching a class in "Religion, Politics, and the Presidency" (REL 62) in the Fall 2015 Term.

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