There exists a great puzzle of religion in the United States, which is largely unrecognized by most Americans because they have never known another reality: America is unusually religious, unusually diverse religiously, and yet unusually tolerant. In most countries, intense religiosity combined with stark religious differences equals wars, violence, and civil disorder. Why have we not torn ourselves apart along the religious fault lines that have increasingly come to divide us?
Americans are increasingly concentrated at two opposite ends of the religious spectrum – the highly religious of many faiths at one pole, and the avowedly secular at the other. The moderate, essentially nonpolitical religious middle that dominated America's religious landscape in the decades immediately following World War II is shrinking.
Professor Robert Putnam, Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University, will examine the complex interaction of religion, politics, and social movements over the past half-century and provide a nuanced balance sheet of how religion both contributes to and detracts from the vibrancy and stability of American democracy. He will analyze how the current alliance between religion and conservative politics was built, and sketch the possible outlines of a completely different political-religious alignment.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Gamble Auditorium, Art Building