By Hugh Heclo
Christianity, now not faith normally, has been vital for American democracy. With this daring thesis, Hugh Heclo bargains a wide ranging view of the way Christianity and democracy have formed every one other.
Heclo exhibits that amid deeply felt spiritual alterations, a Protestant colonial society progressively confident itself of the actually Christian purposes for, in addition to the enlightened political merits of, non secular liberty. by way of the mid-twentieth century, American democracy and Christianity seemed locked in a mutual embody. however it was once a tricky union at risk of primary problem within the Sixties. regardless of the following upward push of the non secular correct and glib speak of a conservative Republican theocracy, Heclo sees a longer-term, reciprocal estrangement among Christianity and American democracy.
Responding to his tough argument, Mary Jo Bane, Michael Kazin, and Alan Wolfe criticize, qualify, and amend it. Heclo’s rejoinder indicates why either secularists and Christians may still fear a few 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 resources for Christianity and American Democracy (Alexis de Tocqueville Lectures on American Politics)
Some were too politic to say it, but if the experiment in selfgovernment was to survive, the nation had to deal not simply with the philosophical problem of virtue, but with a looming virtue deficit in the American people. There were intellectual resources that could be brought to bear from many sides—the intuitions of natural law in Scottish moral philosophy, deistic views of moral reason divorced from spirituality, the civic virtu endorsed by classical humanists, and the moral affections inspired by pietism.
58 It is not just people but time itself that is to be redeemed. Viewed from this third angle, the sanctified vision sees an end to the wreck of history and the beginning of a new time. The claim is that the hold of recurrent time on republics—a political life cycle of birth, maturity, and decay—has been decisively broken in America. A new era has come to renew the world. To take two utter extremes from the religious-political spectrum, the “new light” theologian Jonathan Edwards saw America’s spiritual awakening in 1740 and reasoned that “it is not unlikely that this work of God’s Spirit .
In this context of religious liberty, there was also an open invitation for the nation’s overwhelmingly Christian religious groups to enter politics as sanctified defenders of the morality underpinning republican government. Implementing this moral calculus would not violate the Constitution as it was then understood, but failing to implement it would violate Christianity’s “prophetic stance” toward the worldly powers-that-be. In the years after Tocqueville returned to Europe, Christianity helped make a certain kind of democracy and democracy helped make a certain kind of Christianity in America.