A History of Civil Religion from the Puritans to the Present
With a new preface by the author
The long battle between exclusionary and inclusive versions of the American story
Was America founded as a Christian nation or a secular democracy? Neither, argues Philip Gorski in American Covenant. What the founders envisioned was a prophetic republic that would weave together the ethical vision of the Hebrew prophets and the Western political heritage of civic republicanism. In this eye-opening book, Gorski shows why this civil religious tradition is now in peril—and with it the American experiment.
American Covenant traces the history of prophetic republicanism from the Puritan era to today, providing insightful portraits of figures ranging from John Winthrop and W.E.B. Du Bois to Jerry Falwell, Ronald Reagan, and Barack Obama. Featuring a new preface by the author, this incisive book demonstrates how half a century of culture war has drowned out the quieter voices of the vital center, and demonstrates that if we are to rebuild that center, we must recover the civil religious tradition on which the republic was founded.
Philip Gorski is professor of sociology and religious studies at Yale University. His books include The Protestant Ethic Revisited and The Disciplinary Revolution: Calvinism and the Rise of the State in Early Modern Europe.