Religion in America by Denis Lacorne
A Political History (Religion, Culture, and Public Life)

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 1 Critic Review



Denis Lacorne identifies two competing narratives defining the American identity. The first narrative, derived from the philosophy of the Enlightenment, is essentially secular. Associated with the Founding Fathers and reflected in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Federalist Papers, this line of reasoning is predicated on separating religion from politics to preserve political freedom from an overpowering church. Prominent thinkers such as Voltaire, Thomas Paine, and Jean-Nicolas Démeunier, who viewed the American project as a radical attempt to create a new regime free from religion and the weight of ancient history, embraced this American effort to establish a genuine “wall of separation” between church and state.

The second narrative is based on the premise that religion is a fundamental part of the American identity and emphasizes the importance of the original settlement of America by New England Puritans. This alternative vision was elaborated by Whig politicians and Romantic historians in the first half of the nineteenth century. It is still shared by modern political scientists such as Samuel Huntington. These thinkers insist America possesses a core, stable “Creed” mixing Protestant and republican values. Lacorne outlines the role of religion in the making of these narratives and examines, against this backdrop, how key historians, philosophers, novelists, and intellectuals situate religion in American politics.

About Denis Lacorne

See more books from this Author
Denis Lacorne is a senior research fellow with the CERI (Centre d'Etudes et de Recherches Internationales) at Sciences Po, Paris. A frequent commentator on American politics in the French press and on French television, his books include With Us or Against Us: Studies in Global Anti-Americanism and Language, Nation, and State: Identity Politics in a Multilingual Age, both with Tony Judt.Tony Judt (1948--2010) was the Erich Maria Remarque Professor in European Studies at New York University and director of its Erich Maria Remarque Institute. His last book was The Memory Chalet.
Published August 16, 2011 by Columbia University Press. 250 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Religion & Spirituality, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Religion in America

Kirkus Reviews

See more reviews from this publication

The second, which was first articulated by 19th-century Whig politicians and Romantic historians, sees American identity as “Neopuritan,” the unchanging product of “a unique combination of Protestant and republican values.” Lacorne looks at the evolution of these rival narratives by examining the...

Aug 01 2011 | Read Full Review of Religion in America: A Politi...

Rate this book!

Add Review