Vote Your Conscience: Party Must Not Trump Principles
(Union Mound Publishing, 2016)
The 2016 presidential election provides voters with the two least popular nominees in polling history. Both come with a record of ethical scandals, flip-flops, and outright lies. Yet, many pastors and Christian leaders willingly risk their credibility and witness by publicly endorsing one of these flawed candidates simply because of party affiliation. Donald Trump’s vulgar, bigoted, violent, authoritarian, and racist rhetoric and policies stand in stark opposition to biblical teachings. We must be politically engaged, but we must do so without ignoring our consciences and throwing away our principles. In this book, award-winning author Brian Kaylor addresses the moral issues at stake in the 2016 election, explores how the Christian faith became too closely tied to partisan politics, and considers the alternative political engagement called for in scripture. This book also includes practical steps to help Christians offer much-needed prophetic politics during this and future campaigns.
Sacramental Politics: Religious Worship as Political Action
(Peter Lang, 2015)
Religion and politics have often been called taboo topics for polite dinner conversation, but in political campaigns and religious services, the two often mix. This book looks at how religious worship remains embedded with inherent political messages and behaviors, showing that conflicts between church and state exist not just in the public arena, but in each sanctuary and house of worship. To explore this religious-political tension, the book first examines more obvious examples of worship as political action, such as when candidates speak during church services or when political parties hold prayer services at party events. The initial analysis acts as a foundation for the idea of worship serving a political purpose, and is followed by analysis of non-partisan and less obvious political worship services. Religious sacraments (such as baptism, confirmation, communion/mass, and confession) function as key moments in which religious participants pledge allegiance to a power that resides outside Washington, D.C. or statehouses, thus highlighting the alternative political messages and space carved out through worship.
Presidential Campaign Rhetoric in an Age of Confessional Politics
(2011 by Lexington Books; updated paperback edition in 2012)
Winner of 2013 Roderick P. Hart Outstanding Book Award from National Communication Association’s Political Communication Division; Winner of 2012 Wilbur Award for best nonfiction book from Religion Communicators Council; Winner of 2011 Bruce E. Gronbeck Political Communication Research Award from Carl Couch Center for Social & Internet Research.
When a Bible-quoting Sunday School teacher, Jimmy Carter, won the 1976 presidential election, it marked the start of a new era of presidential campaign discourse. The successful candidates since then have followed Carter’s lead in publicly testifying about their personal religious beliefs and invoking God to justify their public policy positions and their political visions. With this new confessional political style, the candidates have repudiated the former perspective of a civil-religious contract that kept political leaders from being too religious and religious leaders from being too political. This book covers the religious-political discourse used by presidential nominees from 1976-2008, and then details key characteristics of their confessional rhetoric that represent a substantial shift from the tenets of the civil-religious contract. This new confessional political style is characterized by religious-political rhetoric that is testimonial, partisan, sectarian, and liturgical in nature. In order to understand why candidates have radically adjusted their God talk on the campaign trail, important religious-political shifts in American society since the 1950s are examined, which demonstrate the rhetorical demands evangelical religious leaders have placed upon our would-be national leaders. Kaylor utilizes Michel Foucault’s work on the confession – with theoretical adjustments – to critique the significant problems of the confessional political era.
For God’s Sake Shut Up!: Lessons for Christians on How to Speak Effectively and When to Remain Silent
(2007 by Smyth & Helwys)
One of the greatest problems in the Christian community in America today is a general inability to effectively communicate without polarizing or driving people away. This book offers numerous insights for Christians who desire to share their beliefs in more effective ways. It draws upon lessons learned during communication studies, experiences as a pastor, and insights from being a communications specialist for a church organization. These principles are developed with the use of personal anecdotes and news stories to provide specific examples of what to do or what not to do when attempting to communicate. Kaylor critiques many famous Christians for saying things that ultimately hurt the cause. Thus, the book’s tone is often humorous/satirical. You should find the book to be a worthwhile read with many important issues to consider along with relevant and current examples. The book deals with thirteen areas related to effective communication.
Free Discussion Guide. Several Sunday School classes and small groups have used this book as their Bible study text. At the request of one group, Brian created a study guide in 2011 (with new examples and discussion prompts) to help guide class discussions. If you would like Brian to join a session of your class (in person or via Skype), contact him at [email protected]. You can download the free discussion guide here.