Session One: The Troubled Legacy of Religion and Politics in the U.S.A.
Tuesday, October 2, 2012 - 6:30pmThe United States has always walked a tightrope between two very different values. On the one hand, it has been shaped by the widely-shared, and often officially endorsed, conviction that the United States has a special role to play in God’s providential plan. We have described ourselves as the “New Israel,” as “a city on a hill,” as “God’s chosen people,” and a “godly commonwealth.” On the other hand, we have fiercely prized freedom of conscience and have defended the right of citizens to be free from governmental influence upon their religious lives. These two divergent themes have had an uneasy interaction in our history, and the tension between them continues to haunt our public life. To make matters even more complex, there are now two rival civil religions, each one projecting a different vision of what a righteous nation should look like.