Politics State

Christianity and American Democracy (Alexis de Tocqueville by Hugh Heclo

By Hugh Heclo

Christianity, now not faith regularly, has been vital for American democracy. With this daring thesis, Hugh Heclo deals a breathtaking view of the way Christianity and democracy have formed every one other.
Heclo indicates that amid deeply felt spiritual changes, a Protestant colonial society progressively confident itself of the actually Christian purposes for, in addition to the enlightened political benefits of, spiritual liberty. by means of the mid-twentieth century, American democracy and Christianity seemed locked in a mutual include. however it was once a problematical union at risk of primary problem within the Sixties. regardless of the following upward thrust 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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26 To say that religion should be encouraged by government support is another religious error. True religion could make it on its own, without government’s financial support or legal weaponry. ” At this point the argument got to the heart of things. It is each person’s duty to God that produces the right to religious liberty. Religion is an obligation produced by the fact of God’s creative work (“the duty which we owe to our Creator”). The right of religious liberty follows from this duty. ”) Thus the right of religious liberty is an individual right, not a group entitlement (“the homage each person determines in conscience to be acceptable to the Creator”).

Like its two kindred “historical” world religions (Judaism and Islam), Christianity imparts a linear, content-rich view to time. Time is not mere duration. 47 By contrast, in the three Abrahamic religions, history—like Abram—is being called by God to go somewhere. In theological language, they are eschatological religions in that they look forward to the great consummation of a magnificent promise. Impelled by the Word of God, the world is moving toward the fulfillment of God’s plan for ending history as we know it.

The Puritans coming to America were part of this climate, seeking and defending various interpretations of biblical prophecy about the end-times of history as these applied to all sorts of political events in their world. It was in this theological-hermeneutic-political context that the early American republic was self-consciously casting aside the traditions of the old world and trying to make sense of itself. Here Tocqueville’s focus on the early Puritans as an ideological template for the new democracy misses a crucial development.

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