Putnam and Campbell: “God and Caesar in America” (2012)

February 27, 2012
By tomsander

Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell have a piece in the March/April 2012 Foreign Affairs, including new findings from the 2011 Faith Matters Survey:


From the day the Pilgrims stepped off the Mayflower, religion has played a prominent role in American public life. The faithful have been vital participants in nearly every major social movement in U.S. history, progressive as well as conservative. Still, the close intertwining of religion and politics in the last 40 years is unusual, especially in the degree of the politicization of religion itself. Indeed, religion’s influence on U.S. politics has hit a high-water mark, especially on the right. Yet at the same time, its role in Americans’ personal lives is ebbing. As religion and politics have become entangled, many Americans, especially younger ones, have pulled away from religion. And that correlation turns out to be causal, not coincidental.

It is no surprise that religion and politics should be connected to some degree in a highly religious and democratic nation. In the nineteenth century, U.S. political parties were divided along sectarian lines: pietistic versus liturgical, low church versus high church, Protestant versus Catholic. But whereas the past saw partisans of different religions (often with an ethnic tinge) face off in the political arena, today partisan divisions are not defined by denomination; rather, they pit religiously devout conservatives against secular progressives. Moreover, to a degree not seen since at least the 1850s (and perhaps not even then), religious mobilization is now tied directly to party politics.

Read rest of article here.

Read paperback of American Grace (containing epilogue with new 2012 findings).



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