Religious movements are a powerful force in politics, but there is no research that analyzes the relationship between new communication technologies and Christian political mobilization in the United States. In addressing this deficit, this thesis has three interrelated aims. First, beginning from an analysis of social capital, civic engagement and mobilization, it provides a historical overview of the U.S. evangelical community and its rise as a dominant cultural and political force. It argues that changing social norms provided the conditions for a strong reactionary religious movement to take root, while the social effects of broadcast media helped to concentrate evangelical energies on issues such as abortion, homosexuality, and school prayer. Second, this thesis develops an understanding of the impact of the Internet upon evangelical organizations based on original research and fieldwork. It demonstrates that in contrast to the effects of broadcast media, which served largely to unify evangelical cultural attitudes, the Internet is instead a source of significant theological fragmentation and political pluralization. By serving as a conduit through which dissident religious elements are better able to connect, organize, and mobilize, the Internet is revealed to be a powerful tool for movements such as ―creation care‖ and the ―emerging church,‖ which in years past have been unable to gather significant cultural strength due to the limitations of prevailing communication infrastructures. Collectively, these movements have emerged as a source of considerable unrest and internal religious division. Finally, this thesis discusses the political and electoral implications of a fragmented evangelical community and the ways in which the U.S. Democratic Party may capitalize on these developments.
|Award date||1 Jun 2012|
|Publication status||Unpublished - 2012|
- New Media, Evangelicals, American Politics