The Religion of Democracy: Seven Liberals and the American Moral Tradition

Amy Kittelstrom. Penguin Press, $32.95 (432p) ISBN 978-1-59420-485-2
Mention of religion in the public square today is commonly associated with political conservatism. This analysis from Kittelstrom, who teachers history at California’s Sonoma State University, serves as a reminder that many religious liberals were instrumental in guiding American society in its quest for moral and social progress. The seven individuals discussed—including John Adams, William James, and Jane Addams—are drawn from a wide swath of history and a broad range of occupations and ideologies, but they share the conviction that religion “doth not deserve that Sacred Name, if it does us no Good.” Religious liberalism changes the focus of faith from the world to come to the here and now. Kittelstrom’s history stands out for its deeply textured treatment of each of these profoundly important thinkers, permitting appreciation of the influences that brought them to an enlightened view of faith and its sociopolitical implications. Kittelstrom offers the stories of men and women who were fueled by faith and accomplished great things for humanity. This timely, important work by an excellent scholar is part of the Penguin History of American Life series. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/09/2015
Release date: 04/21/2015
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 464 pages - 978-0-14-310813-9
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