Under God: Religion and American Politics

Under God: Religion and American Politics

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by Garry Wills
     
 

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In Under God, Garry Wills, one of our liveliest and most eminent political observers, moves through the tapestry of American history, illuminating the instances where American politics and American religion have collided. Beginning with the 1988 presidential contest, an election that included two ministers and a senator accused of sin, Wills surveys our history to… See more details below

Overview

In Under God, Garry Wills, one of our liveliest and most eminent political observers, moves through the tapestry of American history, illuminating the instances where American politics and American religion have collided. Beginning with the 1988 presidential contest, an election that included two ministers and a senator accused of sin, Wills surveys our history to show the continuity of present controversies with past religious struggles and argues that the secular standards of the Founding Fathers have been misunderstood. He shows that despite reactionary fire-breathers and fanatics, religion has often been a progressive force in American politics and explains why the policy of a separate church and state has, ironically, made the position of the church stronger. Marked by the extraordinary quality of observation that has defined the work of Garry Wills, Under God is a rich, original look at why religion and politics will never be separate in the United States.

About the Author:
Garry Wills is an Emeritus Professor of History at Northwestern University

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Explicating his theory that religion is an inextricable element of American political life, Wills sheds new light on the 1988 presidential campaign. While George Bush wooed Jerry Falwell and extolled patriotism, religion, law and order, Jesse Jackson and Pat Robertson--both ordained ministers, both from the South, both advocates of a moral revival--represented antipodal political extremes. The ``secularity'' of Michael Dukakis's campaign came across in his ``pinched ideal of politics,'' while Gary Hart, a product of Yale Divinity School, failed to find ``a new moral language'' to account for personal indiscretions. Wills ( Reagan's America ) writes incisively of Mario Cuomo's stand on abortion and of Robert Bork, ``a friend of censorship.'' He gives his central thesis historical ballast; for example, Abraham Lincoln saw the Civil War as an act of ``expiatory suffering,'' and deist Thomas Jefferson in his private writings revealed his enthusiasm for Jesus's ethical doctrines. Author tour. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Wills argues that religion has always been an important element in American politics. He demonstrates that our political crises (slavery, civil rights, etc.) have all been moral dilemmas as well, often using the language and emotion of religion, and that such concepts as sin and confession, creation and apocalypse continue to influence political thinking. His topics include censorship and abortion as well as black religion and politics. The final section discusses Jefferson's concept of the separation of church and state: Wills emphasizes that the original intent of this idea was to free religion from the compromises of establishment so it could have a greater, not a lesser, moral influence on the nation. He feels this has indeed been the result, for good or ill. Another thought-provoking book from the author of Nixon Agonistes ( LJ 8/70) and Reagan's America ( LJ 2/1/87). Recommended for academic and public libraries. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/90.-- C. Robert Nixon, M.L.S., Lafayette, Ind.
From the Publisher
"Easily the most engrossing and informative — and far and away the best written — book on American politics in many, many moons."

Booklist

"Abounds in complexities and ironies."

Time

"A brilliant examination of the connection between religion and politics in American life."

The Milwaukee Journal

"A devastating analysis."

The Washington Post

"Intellectual journalism of the highest order."

San Francisco Chronicle

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780671657017
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
10/01/1990

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