A history of religion’s role in the American liberal tradition through the eyes of seven transformative thinkers Today we associate liberal thought and politics with secularism. When we argue over whether the nation’s founders meant to keep religion out of politics, the godless side is said to be liberal. But the role of religion in American politics has always been far more nuanced and complex than today’s debates would suggest and closer to the heart of American intellectual life than is commonly understood. American democracy was intended by its creators to be more than just a political system, and in The Religion of Democracy, historian Amy Kittelstrom shows how religion and democracy have worked together as universal ideals in American culture—and as guides to moral action and the social practice of treating one another as equals who deserve to be free. The first people in the world to call themselves “liberals” were New England Christians in the early republic, for whom being liberal meant being receptive to a range of beliefs and values. The story begins in the mid-eighteenth century, when the first Boston liberals brought the Enlightenment into Reformation Christianity, tying equality and liberty to the human soul at the same moment these root concepts were being tied to democracy. The nineteenth century saw the development of a robust liberal intellectual culture in America, built on open-minded pursuit of truth and acceptance of human diversity. By the twentieth century, what had begun in Boston as a narrow, patrician democracy transformed into a religion of democracy in which the new liberals of modern America believed that where different viewpoints overlap, common truth is revealed. The core American principles of liberty and equality were never free from religion but full of religion. The Religion of Democracy re-creates the liberal conversation from the eighteenth century to the twentieth by tracing the lived connections among seven thinkers through whom they knew, what they read and wrote, where they went, and how they expressed their opinions—from John Adams to William James to Jane Addams; from Boston to Chicago to Berkeley. Sweeping and ambitious, The Religion of Democracy is a lively narrative of quintessentially American ideas as they were forged, debated, and remade across our history.
Author: Hans-Martien ten Napel
Release Date: 2017-05-18
In both Europe and North America it can be argued that the associational and institutional dimensions of the right to freedom of religion or belief are increasingly coming under pressure. This book demonstrates why a more classical understanding of the idea of a liberal democracy can allow for greater respect for the right to freedom of religion or belief. The book examines the major direction in which liberal democracy has developed over the last fifty years and contends that this is not the most legitimate type of liberal democracy for religiously divided societies. Drawing on theoretical developments in the field of transnational constitutionalism, Hans-Martien ten Napel argues that redirecting the concept and practice of liberal democracy toward the more classical notion of limited, constitutional government, with a considerable degree of autonomy for civil society organizations would allow greater religious pluralism. The book shows how, in a postsecular and multicultural context, modern sources of constitutionalism and democracy, supplemented by premodern, transcendental legitimation, continue to provide the best means of legitimating Western constitutional and political orders.
Author: Nancy Evans
Publisher: Univ of California Press
Release Date: 2010
"Civic Rites clearly demonstrates the complete interdependence of religion and democracy in Athens, illustrating just how much the ancient Athenians' view of the relationship between these powerful forces differs from that in twenty-first century, Western democracies. Evans has provided a systematic, thorough, and lively treatment, liberating readers from modern expectations and offering a new window onto Athenian society."--Loren J. Samons, author of What's Wrong with Democracy? From Athenian Practice to American Worship "It is a double task the author has undertaken: to demonstrate the interdependence, nay, integration of politics and religion in the high days of 'democratic' Athens and to bring this special form of 'democracy' home to a contemporary non-specialist public. She brilliantly succeeds in both, presenting a clear and poignant narrative with graphic details. Civic Rites is a novel and fascinating course through a seemingly well-known field."--Walter Burkert, author of Homo Necans: The Anthropology of Ancient Greek Sacrificial Ritual and Myth "In equal measures intelligent, accessible, and well-informed, this book provides a contemporary introduction to classical Athenian religious practices and their manifold cultural significance. Evans interweaves overviews of political, economic, and social history with engaging descriptions of several major Attic rites. This book will interest specialists while providing students with an illuminating pathway into the familiar yet alien world of ancient Greek religion."--Deborah Boedeker, Brown University "With vivid, elegant writing and compelling imagination, Nancy Evans recreates the complex interaction of religion and politics in the ancient Athenian Democracy. Deftly interweaving chapters on cult and on political developments, she shows the general reader an Athens that is stranger to modern sensibilities than we often realize, and yet one from which we can learn many things about democratic life. A wonderful achievement."--Martha Nussbaum, author of The Fragility of Goodness: Luck and Ethics in Greek Tragedy and Philosophy
Author: Edward Schneier
Release Date: 2015-10-23
Genre: Political Science
Muslim Democracy explores the relationship between politics and religion in forty-seven Muslim-majority countries, focusing especially on those with democratic experience, such as Indonesia and Turkey, and drawing comparisons with their regional, non-Islamic counterparts. Unlike most studies of political Islam, this is a politically-focused book, more concerned with governing realties than ideology. By changing the terms of the debate from theology to politics, and including the full complement of Islamic countries, Schneier shows that the boundaries between church and state in the Islamic world are more variable and diverse than is commonly assumed. Through case studies and statistical comparisons between Muslim majority countries and their regional counterparts, Muslim Democracy shows that countries with different religions but similar histories are not markedly different in their levels of democratization. What many Islamists and western observers call "Islamic law," moreover, is more a political than a religious construct, with religion more the tool than the engine of politics. "Women who drive in Saudi Arabia," as the author says, "are not warned they will go to hell, but that they will go to jail." With the political salience of religion rising in many countries, this book is essential reading for students of comparative politics, religion, and democratization interested in exploring the shifting boundaries between faith and politics.
Author: Mickey Edwards
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Release Date: 2008-03-01
Genre: Political Science
A leading figure in the American conservative movement for over 40 years, Mickey Edwards was a prominent Republican congressman, a former national chairman of the American Conservative Union, and a founding trustee of the Heritage Foundation. When he speaks, conservatives listen. Now, in this highly provocative and frank volume, Edwards argues loud and clear that conservatives today have abandoned their principles and have become champions of that which they once most feared. The conservative movement--which once nominated Barry Goldwater for President, and later elected Ronald Reagan--was based on a distinctly American kind of conservatism which drew its inspiration directly from the United States Constitution--in particular, an overriding belief in individual liberty and limited government. But today, Edwards argues, the mantle of conservatism has been taken over by people whose beliefs and policies threaten the entire constitutional system of government. By abetting an imperial presidency, he contends, so-called "conservatives" have gutted the system of checks and balances, abandoned due process, and trampled upon our cherished civil liberties. Today's conservatives endorse unprecedented assertions of government power--from the creation of secret prisons to illegal wiretapping. Once, they fought to protect citizens from government intrusion; today, they seem to recognize few limits on what government can do. The movement that was once the Constitution's--and freedom's--strongest defender is now at risk of becoming its most dangerous enemy. Edwards ends with a blueprint for reclaiming the essence of conservatism in America. Touching upon many current issues, this passionately argued book concludes that many of today's conservatives seem to have it all backwards. They have turned conservatism upside down--and this book calls them on it.
Author: Jean L. Cohen
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Release Date: 2015-12-22
Polarization between political religionists and militant secularists on both sides of the Atlantic is on the rise. Critically engaging with traditional secularism and religious accommodationism, this collection introduces a constitutional secularism that robustly meets contemporary challenges. It identifies which connections between religion and the state are compatible with the liberal, republican, and democratic principles of constitutional democracy and assesses the success of their implementation in the birthplace of political secularism: the United States and Western Europe. Approaching this issue from philosophical, legal, historical, political, and sociological perspectives, the contributors wage a thorough defense of their project's theoretical and institutional legitimacy. Their work brings fresh insight to debates over the balance of human rights and religious freedom, the proper definition of a nonestablishment norm, and the relationship between sovereignty and legal pluralism. They discuss the genealogy of and tensions involving international legal rights to religious freedom, religious symbols in public spaces, religious arguments in public debates, the jurisdiction of religious authorities in personal law, and the dilemmas of religious accommodation in national constitutions and public policy when it violates international human rights agreements or liberal-democratic principles. If we profoundly rethink the concepts of religion and secularism, these thinkers argue, a principled adjudication of competing claims becomes possible.
Author: Aslı Ü. Bâli
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Release Date: 2017-02-02
What role do and should constitutions play in mitigating intense disagreements over the religious character of a state? And what kind of constitutional solutions might reconcile democracy with the type of religious demands raised in contemporary democratising or democratic states? Tensions over religion-state relations are gaining increasing salience in constitution writing and rewriting around the world. This book explores the challenge of crafting a democratic constitution under conditions of deep disagreement over a state's religious or secular identity. It draws on a broad range of relevant case studies of past and current constitutional debates in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East, and offers valuable lessons for societies soon to embark on constitution drafting or amendment processes where religion is an issue of contention.
Author: Bryan T. McGraw
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Release Date: 2010-06-10
Genre: Political Science
No account of contemporary politics can ignore religion. The liberal democratic tradition in political thought has long treated religion with some suspicion, regarding it as a source of division and instability. Faith in Politics shows how such arguments are unpersuasive and dependent on questionable empirical claims: rather than being a serious threat to democracies' legitimacy, stability and freedom, religion can be democratically constructive. Using historical cases of important religious political movements to add empirical weight, Bryan McGraw suggests that religion will remain a significant political force for the foreseeable future and that pluralist democracies would do well to welcome rather than marginalize it.
Author: Steven V. Mazie
Publisher: Lexington Books
Release Date: 2006-04-07
Genre: Political Science
In Israel's Higher Law, Steven V. Mazie sheds new light on the relationship between liberalism and religion through a detailed assessment of the Jewish state. Drawing on in-depth interviews with Israeli citizens, this compelling work scrutinizes the ways in which Israelis conceptualize and debate their polity's religion-state arrangement.
Author: David Martin
Release Date: 2016-03-16
This book offers a mature assessment of themes preoccupying David Martin over some fifty years, complementing his book On Secularization. Deploying secularisation as an omnibus word bringing many dimensions into play, Martin argues that the boundaries of the concept of secularisation must not be redefined simply to cover aberrant cases, as when the focus was more on America as an exception rather than on Europe as an exception to the 'furiously religious' character of the rest of the world. Particular themes of focus include the dialectic of Christianity and secularization, the relation of Christianity to multiple enlightenments and modes of modernity, the enigmas of East Germany and Eastern Europe, and the rise of the transnational religious voluntary association, including Pentecostalism, as that feeds into vast religious changes in the developing world. Doubts are cast on the idea that religion has ever been privatised and has lately renetered the public realm. The rest of the book deals with the relation of the Christian repertoire to the nexus of religion and politics, including democracy and violence and sharply criticises polemical assertions of a special relation of religion to violence, and explores the contributions of 'cognitive science' to the debate
Author: Alan S. Kahan
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Release Date: 2015
Tocqueville, Democracy, and Religion addresses Alexis de Tocqueville's views on the role of religion in democratic societies. Tocqueville, the author of Democracy in America (quoted in every American president's inaugural address for the past 40 years) was particularly interested in how religion could help democratic societies overcome materialism and selfishness and maintain their freedom. Tocqueville's views on the separation of church andstate and on the spiritual checks and balances religion provides to democracies will interest political theorists, while Alan S. Kahan's analysis of the intellectual origins of Tocqueville's thought and its roots innineteenth-century French politics will attract the interest of historians. Kahan provides the first comprehensive account of Tocqueville's analysis of religion, and shows how his insights can offer us new perspectives on one of the most pressing issues of our time.
This important new study empirically assesses the relationship between religion and democracy, looking at the global, regional and individual country picture. Using a wide range of quantitative data, Anckar tests the validity of Huntington’s claim that democracy and religion are tightly connected, and that western Christianity is the only religion capable of supporting democratic institutions. Anckar evaluates both the broader assumptions that the introduction and the stability of a democratic form of government is dependent on the dominating religion in the country at the macro level and the suggestion that at the individual level, religious adherence is related to pro-democratic values. The volume discusses how whilst at first sight Huntington’s theory appears to receive widespread support, on closer evaluation; there data reveals anomalies that merit further discussion. Whilst it appears that Christianity does seem to provide the most supportive environment democracy, Buddhist countries appear to have results similar to those where Islam is the predominant religion. The relationship between Islam and democracy is also subjected to an extensive discussion; key findings such as the fact that democracy seems to have the greatest chances of success in Muslim countries situated far from Mecca and Medina are developed and examined with important new conclusions reached. Examining religions including Christianity, Islam Buddhism, Hinduism, Chinese folk religion, Confucianism, Taoism and Judaism, Anckar seeks to demonstrate that the political context is more important than religious affiliation for explaining attitudes towards democracy. Thus, at least from the individual perspective, religion is unimportant as an explanation for democratic values. In contrast to Huntington’s predictions, the results of this study will show that the future of democracy does not look so gloomy after all.
Do religious arguments have a public role in the post-9/11 world? Can we hold democracy together despite fractures over moral issues? Are there moral limits on the struggle against terror? Asking how the citizens of modern democracy can reason with one another, this book carves out a controversial position between those who view religious voices as an anathema to democracy and those who believe democratic society is a moral wasteland because such voices are not heard. Drawing inspiration from Whitman, Dewey, and Ellison, Jeffrey Stout sketches the proper role of religious discourse in a democracy. He discusses the fate of virtue, the legacy of racism, the moral issues implicated in the war on terrorism, and the objectivity of ethical norms. Against those who see no place for religious reasoning in the democratic arena, Stout champions a space for religious voices. But against increasingly vocal antiliberal thinkers, he argues that modern democracy can provide a moral vision and has made possible such moral achievements as civil rights precisely because it allows a multitude of claims to be heard. Stout's distinctive pragmatism reconfigures the disputed area where religious thought, political theory, and philosophy meet. Charting a path beyond the current impasse between secular liberalism and the new traditionalism, Democracy and Tradition asks whether we have the moral strength to continue as a democratic people as it invigorates us to retrieve our democratic virtues from very real threats to their practice.