Cover: God’s Law and Order: The Politics of Punishment in Evangelical America, from Harvard University PressCover: God’s Law and Order in HARDCOVER

God’s Law and Order

The Politics of Punishment in Evangelical America

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Product Details


$35.00 • £28.95 • €31.50

ISBN 9780674238787

Publication Date: 11/10/2020

Academic Trade

352 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

15 photos


Superb… Griffith calls for a new direction on the part of evangelicals who feel the pull of law-and-order politics.—David Swartz, The Anxious Bench

If Griffith’s book prompts evangelical believers to apply the gospel not only to individuals in prison but also to the structure of the prison system itself, that would undoubtedly be a good thing. And maybe in the process, as Griffith suggests, the gospel will induce repentance not only among those behind bars but also among some evangelicals who voted for the policies that put so many there in the first place.—Daniel K. Williams, Christianity Today

A stunning work that shakes up our preconceived notions of evangelicalism and criminal justice. It is a must-read for any person of faith who longs to see more compassionate and more just responses to crime in our nation.—C. Christopher Smith, Englewood Review of Books

Plumbs the depths of how evangelicalism’s rise in the mid-twentieth century overlapped with and connected to the expansion of the criminal punishment system… On this point Griffith is insightful and unflinching: reinstituting a robust criminal justice system was a frontline issue for conservative evangelicals because the rending of cultural norms was terrifying.—Justin R. Phillips, Other Journal

Griffith explores how evangelicals have overlooked systemic racial inequalities and disparities that drove their approach to crime and punishment.—Yonat Shimron, Religion News Service

In God’s Law and Order, Griffith connects the simultaneous rise of evangelicalism and mass incarceration, illuminating the way religious leaders played a central role in shoring up support for devastating punitive programs. Carefully researched and persuasively argued, Griffith’s rich history makes enormous contributions to our understanding of politics and culture in modern America.—Elizabeth Hinton, author of From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America

Considering ongoing clashes over incarceration, social and criminal justice, and race, God’s Law and Order couldn’t be more timely. With a balanced and sympathetic touch, Griffith reveals the surprising extent to which law and order concerns have not just driven evangelicalism’s public engagement since the mid-twentieth century, but also stirred its passions for ministry and reform. This brilliantly crafted and beautifully written work forces us to reevaluate the origins of the religious right and adopt a wider purview when trying to make sense of evangelicalism’s political ascent and present course of action. This book deserves—indeed, demands—a wide readership.—Darren Dochuk, author of Anointed with Oil: How Christianity and Crude Made Modern America

Griffith’s account of how modern evangelicalism and the carceral state came of age together is nothing short of pathbreaking. Ranging across time and region with unusual sensitivity and keen insight, he weaves a gripping narrative, full of surprising turns and unintended consequences. The connections between past and present jump off these pages; make no mistake, the story that unfolds in God’s Law and Order is far from over.—Heath W. Carter, author of Union Made: Working People and the Rise of Social Christianity in Chicago

An outstanding contribution to religious history and the history of criminal justice. Griffith offers a deeply researched, limpidly written, and exceedingly well balanced account of the surprisingly complex involvement of white evangelicals with issues of criminal justice, prison ministries, and prison reform. His compelling narrative reveals persistent ambiguities—genuine concern for prisoners, intermittent concern for prison reform, and general lack of awareness about issues of race in criminal justice. I am not aware of anything that comes even close to the sophistication of Griffith’s treatment of this subject.—Mark Noll, author of A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada

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