American Religious Democracy: Coming to Terms with the End of Secular Politics

American Religious Democracy: Coming to Terms with the End of Secular Politics

by Bruce Ledewitz

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The most significant, public religious issue confronting America today is the relationship between Church and State. Secular opinion holds that the rise of religion in the public square is a threat to our democracy that must be resisted. American Religious Democracy argues that this position, although understandable, is misguided. American political life after the 2004 Presidential election is best understood as a religious democracy, though not of a fundamentalist variety. This book explains the decline of secular democracy, describes some of the legal, political and religious implications of this new religious democracy and, finally, invites secular voters to participate in religious democracy.

The 2004 election clearly showed that a substantial number of voters in America now vote the way they do for what they consider to be religious reasons and that, as a result of their voting, government policy is changing to reflect their religious commitments. The result has been the creation of a religious democracy. However,taking part in a religious democracy, for Americans especially, requires a new understanding of what religion means in a public and political sense. Ledewitz takes a reasoned, yet lively approach to the subject, promoting a a new understanding of what religious democracy is and how secularists can and should participate. Looking at the Constitution, the current nature of politics and religion, and public attitudes toward capitalism, the environment, technology, women's rights, and international relations, the author is able to construct a clearer picture of the religious and political landscape in America today.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780275994600
Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
Publication date: 03/30/2007
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 264
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Bruce Ledewitz is Professor at Duquesne University School of Law and author of several journal articles and pieces for publications such as The Wall Street Journal , Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The New York Times, and other news outlets.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     ix
Introduction     xi
The Collapse of American Secular Democracy     1
The Presidential Election of 2004     3
The Establishment and Content of the American Secular Consensus     13
Cracks in the Foundations of the American Secular Consensus     25
Religious Elements in American Constitutional Democracy     37
Religious Elements in Deep Political Life     49
The Separation of Church and State in Principle     59
The Separation of Church and State in Constitutional Doctrine     69
Is Religious Democracy Possible?     83
How Does Our Constitution Change?     85
The Problems of Religion in Democracy     101
The Constitutional Doctrines of Religious Democracy     113
The Theology of Religious Democracy     125
The Political Theory and Policies of Religious Democracy     139
The Religious Void in American Political Life     153
The Current Political Imbalance in American Religious Democracy     155
Biblical Religion and Secular Believers     167
The Radical Politics of Biblical Religion     177
God, the Secular Voter, and American Political Life     189
Conclusion: The Coming Religious Renewalof the Democratic Left     201
Afterword: The 2006 Midterm Election     203
Notes     207
Selected Bibliography     223
Index     227

What People are Saying About This

John C. Green

"This book offers a provocative analysis of the role of religion in American democracy and practical ideas about reducing the tensions it causes. Although sure to provoke controversy in some circles, it deserves to be taken seriously across the political spectrum."

US Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro

"Bruce Ledewitz offers a provocative account of the state of religion in America, and I hope the political world pays attention. He challenges liberals to stop fighting old battles and open up to the pluralistic views of God. He forces conservatives to battle for their policies without the benefit of cheap victories."

Walter Brueggemann

"Professor Ledewitz has written a remarkable book that merits wide attention and careful reading. The book warms the heart of this scripture teacher, one who applauds the book and anticipates its major impact in time to come."

David Walsh

"A skillful and even-handed account of the changes that religion has wrought over the past two decades on the American legal and political landscape. Ledewitz's portrait of American religious democracy perfectly captures the explosive impact of religious sentiments that overflow the secular boundaries assigned to contain them."

John Garvey

"The most important change in our political life in the past thirty years has been our reawakening to the role that religion plays in American democracy. We have set aside the conceit that religious people are unthinking, unyielding, and intolerant in ways that disqualify them as political actors. They are just like us. In fact, they are us. Bruce Ledewitz explains how this realization came about, and asks how far it will, and should, go. His book is honest, perceptive, interesting and timely. Reading it would be a good way to begin the next election cycle."

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