Protestant evangelicals in the United States exhibit a pronounced affinity for limited government. This ideological commitment forms the basis of the New Right coalition, which has merged free market libertarians and evangelicals within the Republican Party since the 1980s. Evangelicals, however, make an exception to the limited government ethos on issues relating to private morality, such as recreational drug use and sexuality, sometimes promoting an agenda of moral activism that seems dissonant against the free market spirit. What explains this apparent tension in their civil religion is a unique political theology that weds the Lockean social contract to the gospel of moral conversion. This intellectual tradition, called “republican theology” in this book, has roots in the American Revolution and a discernible presence in American evangelical thinking ever since.
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