Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Interview with Sam Haselby

Sam Haselby, historian and author of the book, The Origins of American Religious Nationalism, gave an interview with 
A taste:
"I have argued that James Madison and Thomas Jefferson were visionary secularists and that they launched what was a historic, if ultimately faltering, and kind of feeble secularization project. That is true. Other notable Americans of the revolutionary era were acutely Protestant. Patrick Henry and John Jay, for example. They were deeply religious and wanted the US to be so too. So was Timothy Dwight. So were many, many others of the revolutionary generation. Most people probably wanted the US to be a devout country. But there was no agreement on what that meant. The range of positions was broad, very broad.
It is crucial however to understand that 'Christian nation' has always been a term of bigotry and exclusion. First, when Americans of the 18th and 19th century used the term they were saying Catholics were not Christians. Then--as now--most Christians in the world were Catholic. It makes no sense to call a country hostile to most of the world’s Christians a 'Christian nation.'”
You can read the rest of his interview here:


Tom Van Dyke said...

It is crucial however to understand that 'Christian nation' has always been a term of bigotry and exclusion.

"Bigotry" is a word that ends all scholarly or poli-philosophical discussion. We already know how this "historian" votes with the first word out of his mouth.

Puritans wanted so deeply to live as a God-fearing community [as they understood one] that they crossed a murderous ocean to settle an unknown land.

Mormons had the same goal on their westward trek across the hostile plains of America, Brad. Were they "bigoted?"

The "b-word"--bigotry--is intellectual cowardice and should be condemned as such.

Ray Soller said...

The example of the Mormon westward trek is a perfect example of American 'Christian nation' bigotry and exclusion. How perceptive!

Tom Van Dyke said...

Run with it, Ray! How much diversity can a society bear yet still remain a coherent/cohesive society??

Remember, the New Utahans had to make certain concessions to the [Protestant] Christian--pointedly on polygamy--before they were accepted in as one of the United States.

There's a nourishing discussion to be had here: First the Mormons had to leave Illinois and travel half a continent before they looked back and decided they wanted to [re-]unite their New Jerusalem to Washington DC.

Nice to see Brad back, too. Like the Muslims, the Mormons are an interesting tertium quid when it comes to American religious liberty. What is true in what we say of Mormons needs to be true of Muslims as well.