The extraordinary arc of Barack Obama’s popular appeal tells a deeper story of America: of how the relationship between liberalism and religion was forged, then frayed and broken, and how the president’s rhetoric offered the mirage of healing. Theo Hobson asks what, if anything, can be recovered from the ashes of a once-potent compact.
The long-awaited new book on American religion and its impact from Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell introduces us to complexities and contradictions which often get overlooked public debate, says Martin Marty. Does religion unite or divide? Experience says 'both'. But exactly where, how and why remains important for a rounded view.
So sudden have been the marked trends showing disaffection from organised religion that leaders have not internalised the evidence, says Martin Marty. They need to wake up. “Being spiritual” alone is not going to help keep the stories, the language of ethics, and the pool of volunteers embedded in religious bodies thriving.