Christianity and American Democracy, Volume 2

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Harvard University Press, Jul 1, 2009 - Political Science - 312 pages
Exploring the tension at the heart of America’s culture wars, this is “a very fine book on a very important subject” (Mark A. Noll, author of The Civil War as a Theological Crisis).

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.


Democracy and Catholic Christianity
Pluralism Is Hard Workand the
Whose Christianity? Whose Democracy?
Reconsidering Christianity and

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About the author (2009)

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

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