By Hugh Heclo
Christianity, now not faith regularly, has been vital for American democracy. With this daring thesis, Hugh Heclo deals a breathtaking view of ways Christianity and democracy have formed each one other.
Heclo exhibits that amid deeply felt spiritual transformations, a Protestant colonial society progressively confident itself of the really Christian purposes for, in addition to the enlightened political merits of, non secular liberty. by means of the mid-twentieth century, American democracy and Christianity seemed locked in a mutual embody. however it used to be a tricky union liable to basic problem within the Sixties. regardless of the following upward thrust of the spiritual correct and glib speak of a conservative Republican theocracy, Heclo sees a longer-term, reciprocal estrangement among Christianity and American democracy.
Responding to his difficult argument, Mary Jo Bane, Michael Kazin, and Alan Wolfe criticize, qualify, and amend it. Heclo’s rejoinder indicates why either secularists and Christians should still fear a couple of coming rupture among the Christian and democratic faiths. the result's a full of life debate a couple of momentous pressure in American public lifestyles.
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Additional info for Christianity and American Democracy (Alexis de Tocqueville Lectures on American Politics)
It is a very Christian story through which Americans have come to understand their nation as a historical phenomenon. What then can we say about the other strand of the helix—the reciprocal influence of American democracy on American Christianity’s understanding of history? Three points stand out. 43 christianity and american democracy First, the religious pluralism embodied in Protestant America meant the loss of control over any authoritative interpretation of Christian Scripture. Unlike the situation for Catholics, diverse views of biblical millennialism could flourish across the Protestant landscape and attach themselves to politics with a wholehearted frontier abandon.
The result was that Americans tended to be driven toward religious tolerance because there were too many sects to allow them to get away with the intolerance they might have preferred. Moreover, the colonial frontier exhibited a quite fluid sort of pluralism; refusing special privileges for any sect could be the safest course if the benefits for your group might tomorrow be grasped by others. In Massachusetts, for example, the Congregationalists (the original beneficiaries of state support) eventually came to favor disestablishment of religion when Unitarians began sharing the state funds in more localities.
They were rediscovering something old, in fact something intrinsic to Christianity. But because they were rediscovering this in a context of new historical circumstances, they were also innovating, and they were especially innovative compared to the theological and political dead ends prevailing in Europe. Americans creating the Great Denouement were doing something new because they were believing something old. ” This was more than Protestantism speaking. ”30 The cumulative result for Americans was something like an entente cordiale between the forces of Christian faith and Enlightenment reason.
Christianity and American Democracy (Alexis de Tocqueville Lectures on American Politics) by Hugh Heclo