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Christianity and American Democracy

Christianity and American Democracy

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Christianity, not religion in general, has been important for American democracy. With this bold thesis, Hugh Heclo offers a panoramic view of how Christianity and democracy have shaped each other.

Heclo shows that amid deeply felt religious differences, a Protestant colonial society gradually convinced itself of the truly Christian reasons for, as well as the enlightened political advantages of, religious liberty. By the mid-twentieth century, American democracy and Christianity appeared locked in a mutual embrace. But it was a problematic union vulnerable to fundamental challenge in the Sixties. Despite the subsequent rise of the religious right and glib talk of a conservative Republican theocracy, Heclo sees a longer-term, reciprocal estrangement between Christianity and American democracy.

Responding to his challenging argument, Mary Jo Bane, Michael Kazin, and Alan Wolfe criticize, qualify, and amend it. Heclo’s rejoinder suggests why both secularists and Christians should worry about a coming rupture between the Christian and democratic faiths. The result is a lively debate about a momentous tension in American public life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674032309
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 03/31/2009
Series: The Alexis de Tocqueville Lectures on American Politics , #2
Pages: 312
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Hugh Heclo is Robinson Professor of Public Affairs, George Mason University.

Mary Jo Bane is Thornton Bradshaw Professor of Public Policy and Management at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

Michael Kazin is Professor of History, Georgetown University.

Alan Wolfe is Director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life and Professor of Political Science, Boston College.

Theda Skocpol is Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology at Harvard University. Her previous works include the prize-winning States and Social Revolutions.

Table of Contents

  • Foreword [Theda R. Skocpol]
  • 1. Christianity and Democracy in America [Hugh Heclo]
  • 2. Democracy and Catholic Christianity in America [Mary Jo Bane]
  • 3. Pluralism Is Hard Work—and the Work Is Never Done [Michael Kazin]
  • 4. Whose Christianity? Whose Democracy? [Alan Wolfe]
  • 5. Reconsidering Christianity and American Democracy [Hugh Heclo]
  • Notes
  • Acknowledgments
  • About the Authors
  • Index

What People are Saying About This

Mark A. Noll

In this compelling volume, Hugh Heclo is exceedingly precise on what he takes Christianity and democracy to mean; on what Alexis de Tocqueville thought about the two; and on why he feels the successful American confluence of Christianity and democracy has been under grave threat since the 1960s. The admirable precision of Heclo's argument elicits, in turn, admirably precise rejoinders from three distinguished scholars. The result is a very fine book on a very important subject.
Mark A. Noll, University of Notre Dame, author of The Civil War as a Theological Crisis

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