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tv   Americas Civil Religion Cultural Wars  CSPAN  October 28, 2017 4:49pm-6:01pm EDT

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announcer: on history bookshelf, here from the country's best-known history writers of the past decade every saturday at 4:00 p.m. eastern. you can watch any of our programs at any time when you visit our website, you are watching american history tv all weekend, every weekend on c-span3. interested in american history tv? visit our website, you can view our tv schedule, preview upcoming programs, and watch college and lectures, archival films, and more. american history tv at this year marks the 50th anniversary of sociologist robert bella's essay on
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america's civil religion, a term given to a shared set of values, belize, and rituals. next on american history tv, yale university sociology professor philip gorski shares his view on the cultural wars to finding the nation. the arizona state university center for the study of religion and conflict hosted the event. it is just over one hour. today's lecture is part of the speakers series on religion and conflict. as dear friends, the marshals and doubt the speakers -- endowed the speakers because reflected their concerns to promote peaceful solutions to pressing complex in our world. ther generosity funding series continues to bear fruit long after their passing. it is also important to remember many kindbutions of
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support the work we do in the center, including student research, fellowships, travel, and public programming in public education, so i would like to thank all of our friends at the center who are here today, and this being an event on the top pic of civic religion come i salute you as well. maybe this is the first time attending our talks and you enjoyed the lecture and valued the work we are doing to understand the past and make sense of the current moment and held collectively shape our shared future, i would encourage you to become a friend of the center. there are envelopes scattered around the room, may be stuck to the bottom of your shoes. feel free to grab one of those. there is a sign-up sheet in the back that you can get on to our mailing list. dispensing, ii am would be remiss if i did not
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think the outstanding staff at the center who works feverishly behind the scenes to pull off a big event like this. , ourvent coordinator , and others.ector thank you all for the great work that you do every day, especially on days like this. i also have a special thanks for jim and ed, our technical and sound team for their awesome help. friends, we live in a very tumultuous time when ideas about what it means to be american, what america means to us, what it means to other people in the world, this is all very much up for grabs. see debates about rival visions of america on the campaign trail and in daily political conversations. we see them on college campuses.
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we see these debates taking place in the work rooms, break rooms, places of vocation. it is happening at our dining room tables, and these debates are also unfolding in the streets, in protests, happening over and underneath public and in our public squares all across the country. this past weekend we saw that these debates about who we are our unfolding even on the football field and in stadiums around our country. football of all things, right? there could not be a timelier moment for philip gorski's talk on civil religion today. this is a topic that goes to the heart of american history, our identity, ideals, since of purpose in the world. professor gorski will give you a full and detailed understanding of what that entails, but i will simplify it like this.
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i have called civil religion in america as the moral backbone of the body politic, the collective effort to understand the experience of self governance through shared beliefs, events, symbols we recognize as american. this is also a timely moment because it happens to mark the 50th anniversary of the article that coined this term american civil religion by the late sociologist robert bella. he recognized the roots of civil religion go way back as you will hear today. it is not only the right time to talk about civil religion in america, we also have exactly the right person to do this, philip gorski. in addition to being a student of robert bella at the university of california, he is now i distinguished sociologist in his own right at yale university where he is the codirector for the center for
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comparative research and co-heads there religion and civil politics colloquium. his research focuses on state formations, nationalism, revolutions, economic development, secularization, with particular attention to the interaction of religion and politics, and interest near and dear to many of our hearts. his new book american covenant was described by the new york times as essential reading for the moment. i could not agree more. i can add that you can purchase essential reading and have it autographed at the end of this lecture right outside. so would you please welcome, join me in welcoming this year's marshall speaker, philip gorski. his talk is entitled in search of our better angels, a story of american civil religion. [applause] philip: thanks, john.
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familyou to the marshall for inviting me here. angst to all of you for coming to hear me talk today. the united states is in the myths of a deep crisis p i think we all feel it, some of us more acutely than others. , therisis has many causes growing economic inequality that has led some americans whose faith in the american dream -- to lose faith in the american dream. there is the height and racial antagonism and the never ending culture war between secular progressives and religious conservatives. it is the culture wars that will be the focus of my talk today. they have now been raging for the better part of four decades.
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part of the conflict is about issues, particularly about abortion and gay marriage. these are contentious issues and i will not pretend to resolve them here. instead i would like to focus on another source of the conflict, namely history. cultural warriors often argued that the united states was founded as a christian nation. their left-wing opponents often respond that it was founded as a secular democracy. my thesis is that both of these stories are wrong, or at least one side. our civic tradition has both sacred and secular sources. it is both a civil and religious in origin. that is one reason why i call it our civil religion. while some religion can divide us, this has more often united us. i think it might help unite us again, probably not all of us, but maybe enough of us to
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restart our civic conversation and begin moving the country forward again. let's take a close look at that history. let's start with the puritan john winthrop, the longtime the massachusetts bay colony. shortly before he set sail for the new world in 1630, he gave a brief speech. covenant,tered into a and if we live up to its terms we shall be as a city on the hill, but if we don't, we will soon be brought low. did not mean america would be singled out for special blessings. he was not saying god blessed america. rather he meant that we would be placed under special judgment. what will we be judged for? our economic prosperity, our winning?might, or
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no. charity, and unity. elsewhere he said, "no common wheel can be bounded by commonweal is a word for republic or democracy. it envisioned a for-profit commercial venture, an experiment in self-government. the terms of the original charter, only stockholders could have political rights. newhrop helped to draw up a constitution that extended political rights, not to everyone, but at least to all white male church members, which was still a pretty radical thing to do in an aristocratic age. ourrom the very beginning civil religion has had a sacred strand drawn from biblical religion and the secular strand
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taken from political philosophy. the puritans themselves fell well short of these ideas, not least in their dealings with the idealsicans, but of themselves, justice and liberty, our noble ones none the less. -- the american revolution. mixture ofomplex sacred and secular sources planted together to read take the declaration and the constitution. the declaration famously says that we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, among be is our, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. continues, weon the people of the united states, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure
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domestic tranquility, provide the common defense, promote general welfare and blessings of welfare to ourselves and posterity, do establish and ordain this constitution. familiar words, of course. some interpreters have argued our constitution is godless. strictly speaking, they are right, in that it contains no mention of god. but copies of the declaration of a crater,tly that made us equal and endowed us with unalienable rights. a mixture of sacred and secular. but isn't this a mixture of oil and water? aren't religion and republicanism at odds? so it may seem to some of us today. not so to the founding generation. for them, biblical religion and democratic self-government fit together, hand in glove. text, here is how
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they read it -- when the israelites requested the king, god gave them on. but only as a form of punishment. for what is a king but a false god, and idle? -- idol? self forming governments are for a self-righteous people. they did not come up with this reading themselves. they barred it from medieval judaism. how widespread was this view, you ask? it extended beyond the ranks of orthodox christian. consider benjamin franklin. this is his proposal for the national seal of the u.s. that would be the israelites crossing the red sea. consider that runaway
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bestseller, of the revolutionary era "common sense," by thomas payne. he was no christian, but here is what he argued for the republic. the prophet samuel disapproves of government biking, payne argued. for near 3000 years, israel is the kind of republic issued by a judge and elders of the tribe. put them under a national illusion -- delusion, requested a king. even the most skeptical founder regarded religion and government has potentially complementary. like the puritans, they fell short of ideals. while the declaration loudly declared all men are created equal, the constitution passively downgraded african slaves to 3/5 of a person. man was taken to mean free white
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man. there was no contradiction. but as the abolitionist movement took hold, more americans began to challenge this assumption. some defenders of southern slavery thought to do away with the contradiction by doing away with the declaration itself. john calhoun, the chief ideologue of the southern slave-ocracy said all men are crated equal is a blatant falsehood, without any necessity. he wanted to strike a few phrases in the constitution. clause, he was fine with that. what troubled calhoun was the phrase "we the people." he thought it should read "we the peoples, of these united
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states." it was the people that were sovereign. he did not believe in the united states as a sovereign nation, at all. many white northerners agreed ,ith calvin, -- calhoun including, to some degree, the young abraham lincoln. he did not believe in slavery, but not full racial equality. not at first, anyway. nor did he think the federal government had the power to abolish slavery. s mind?anged lincoln' his own rereading of the founder's documents. after months of studies in the springfield library, he concluded the spirit of those documents was contained in the i cited earlier. and that the spirit of those documents sometimes overrode the letters contained in their articles. for lincoln this meant the
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declaration's claim that all men are created equal overrode the 3/5 laws. the constitutional request for more perfect union ultimately trumped the sovereignty of the individual states, including under question, slavery. lincoln was not the only one to reach this conclusion. the abolitionist leader frederick douglass was of the same mind. the one thateen changed lincoln's mind on this part. for calhoun , the american covenant had one value only, freedom. for lincoln, it had at least two. free government, but also socially quality. -- equality. the civil war was a just punishment, or so he concluded in his second inaugural address.
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do we pray that this mighty scorcher of war may speedily of war may- scourge speedily pass away? until all the wealth piled up by the bondsman has a sunk end until every drop of lead shall be paid by another -- blood shall be paid with another. it is still said the judgments of the lord are just and righteous altogether. the americans had broken their covenant, he argued, and the civil war was there deserved punishment -- their deserved punishment. the united states tried to pursue racial equality in an equal way. with the election of andrew johnson they reverted to their old backsliding ways. from the era of reconstruction
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to the progressive era, 1920's, a lot changed. industrialization made the united states more powerful. immigration has made it more diverse. world war i had turned it into a global power. resulted in massive social inequality, a nativist backlash against immigrants and asian-americans, and epidemic of lynchings and imperialist missa ventures overseas. the progressive era in other -- an looks a lawful awful lot like our own. the progressive era was also an period whenal, a some revitalized their civil religious tradition by reaching back to its deepest sources --
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philosophy and theology. let's start with the man who came to be known as america's philosopher, john dewey. born in vermont, raised a became at, dewey professor of philosophy in columbia and chicago. he launched religion, but not his face. --least not his faith and in in american democracy. it was a spiritual project. politicalys, dewey's views anticipated and shaped those of today that are progressive. he believed increased federal power would sometimes be necessary to save our democratic freedom. in an earlier america, he argued, in agricultural america, where property was more equally distributed, the power of the many had perhaps -- was perhaps
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insufficient. but in the new america, and industrial america, property was so concentrated in the hands of the few that they could ride roughshod over the many. the only way balance could be restored he argued, was if the democratic citizenry use the power to counterbalance the power of the wealthy few. democratizing freedom would involve tempering autonomy with powers of the national state. 's version of secular progressivism drew heavily on ancient philosophy area in particular, it drew on the principle of constitutional balance, by greek and roman thinkers. to push american democracy forward, dewey reached back to ancient philosophy, the very wellspring of the democratic idea.
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alsothe ancients, dewey believed to democratic constitution was a necessary condition for success -- a successful republic. but not asus it -- but not a sufficient one. he thought a civic education was equally crucial. the chief purpose of education was to form democratic citizens. not by indoctrinating them with a whitewashed version of american history, rather by instilling habits of democratic association. habits of experimentation, of cooperation, of reflection. nor was civic education alone enough, in dewey's view. he said it had to be combined with a common faith. here is perhaps the chief difference between him and secular progressive followers today.
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that faith hads, been a faith in the god of the city. for most americans, that is meant a faith in the god of the bible. of course it still does. but not for dewey. dewey's was a secular faith, of faith in democracy. not just as a form of government, but. the cause itself dewey argued democracy is inscribed in nature. that nature itself is and --stic, relational, experimentation, open-ended, just as democracy is. democratic project is a spiritual project and not just a political. dewey's comment faith was and perhaps still could be a civil religion for secular progressives.
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america's from theologian. raised in aand illinois. in southern he spent most of his career at union theological seminary, a few doors down from dewey in columbia. what made niebuhr so influential, graced the cover of time magazine not once but twice? what made him so famous was the idea of original sin. rather, a particular understanding of original sin. in his view, the original sin was pride.
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not lust or greed, but pride. not been allowed in boastful pride sent by recognition of power, but the quieter, subtler forms of pride, that too often hide behind failed humid it -- humility or public charity. niebuhr worried a lot about the effects of pride in our individual lives. but worried even more about the effects of collective pride in our political life. most dangerous form of collective pride said niebuhr our modern, religious nationalism. what makes religious nationalism so dangerous he said is that it can join spiritual and national pride and [indiscernible] argued,s nationalism he is not nearly idolatrous, but positively demonic.
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daemonic in the sense it involves the evasion and possession of the self. by a racial and national spirit that makes pretensions to divinity. we are more powerfully possessed by it now than ever before. wouldt, i believe niebuhr and love isw pride accomplishment and self-esteem and not sources of danger, and corruption, as earlier generations of americans did. about humanews nature made him skeptical about some versions of secular progressivism. for example, the view that education is a cure for all bills -- ills. ifcation is only a panacea
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ignorance is the root of all evil. but what if the root of all evil is pride? and contrition will be more important than knowledge and air you dish in. was also skeptical about the progressive vision of progress. not because he denied the possibility of progress, but because in his view, history does not move in a straight line. rather, it forms a widening spiral. spiral first because progress is always followed by regress. a widening spiral because it is the possibilities of human cooperation expand, so too do the possibilities of human oppression. globalization can lead to new forms of solidarity, but also to new forms of exploitation. was especially concerned about utopian versions of
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progressivism. to know thech claim end of history in advance, and exactly how to get there. historyuhr, the end of is not accessible to reason. we are not capable of discerning it. for niebuhr, the end of history is outside of his -- history. justice, but we cannot achieve it. not inhere and now and any endurable way. niebuhr urges us to be optimistic without fatalistic, righteous without self-righteous. he talks of a guiding myth. by miss he means a transcendent h he means a transcendent
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narrative treated as truth. our civil religious tradition is one such myth. no account of our civic tradition would be complete without a discussion of martin luther king. what lincoln had been to he is ours past -- greatest civic saint. he is known to every american school child, whose speeches are veritable catechism. it was a lot like lincoln and his heroes.wo of highly critical but ultimately affirming. aware of they moral rot that had spread through american society as a result of racial prejudice. but he never gave up his hope for political redemption. in his speeches he urged his followers repeatedly to uncover
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an older dream, the american dream that used to be. of the shallow dream material ease, but the nobler dream of human equality and national unity that had animated earlier generations of americans. the substance of the dream is expressed in these sublime words -- we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal. king did not regard this dream as his alone. somehow called america to do a special job for mankind in the world. never before in the history of the world had so many racial groups and so many national backgrounds assembled together in one nation, a statement even truer now than it was in king's day. if we cannot solve the problem of america, the world cannot solve the problem.
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because america is the world in miniature and the world is america at large. in a sense, king was an american exceptionalism. his exceptionalism was not the christian and militarism of today. american exceptionalism already sees the u.s. as a chosen -- the chosen one, the divine arm of long justice. the puritans saw america as an almost chosen nation, but people that set themselves apart in a great collective experiment, placed under historical judgment. king hopedop, america would be an example to the world and warned of god's wrath, should they fail. the judgment of god is upon us, he said. and we must either learn to live together as brothers and sisters, or we're all going to perish as fools.
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those words, truer now than ever. then came the culture wars of the 1980's and 1990's. civil religion started to unravel. there were still veterans of the human rights movement, there still are. but many walked away from it. some became technocrats, cheerleaders for globalization, preaching gospel of economic growth. others embraced a radical identity politics that highlighted our differences, to the point of denying our commonalities. only a few held fast. when the secular left the civil religion go, the religious right quickly seized hold of it and set about correcting it. jerry falwell led the way. remember,too young to he was the founder of the moral
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majority, the political arm of the new christian right area -- right. falwell had lots to say about sin. for him, sin was always individual, never collective. and it was mostly sexual, never social. denounced of the sins of the people, it was always other people he had in mind. the fornicators, abortionists, hedonists, secularists, never the following members of his own flock. byhim who builds his house unrighteousness, suffered rooms of on justice, makes his nerve or -- makes his neighbors serve for nothing, he says, i will build myself a great house, spacious upper rooms, as jeremiah. this -- of this sinner, falwell said nothing. one suspects falwell cares nothing.
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in falwell's hand, it evolved into a reactionary religious nationalism that niebuhr had so stringently warned us against. ronald reagan laid a small supporting role in this process, albeit subtler and a more ambiguous one. go.e we spoke of america not as a city on a hill, but a shining city on a hill, a glittering object admired by all the world for its wealth, piety, and power. reagan did speak of evil, but only with regard to communist. the american people were inherently good and the united states was brave, exceptionally great. far from warning about the dangers of excessive national pride, reagan subtly encouraged them. gone too was the worry of
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excessive luxury and wealth. for reagan, wealth was good and unambiguously so. the only real source of corruption and american life he thought was the state, particularly the welfare state. and yet to his credit, at the close of his presidency, reagan did have this to say about the shining city. if there has to be city walls, the doors -- the walls have doors, and the doors are open to those with the heart to get there. his civil religion may have been tarnished, but it was still racially inclusive. many of his contemporary admirers seem to have forgotten that. eventually the civil religion did get it back. the turning white came in july of 2004 when a skinny guy with a funny name walked onto a stage boston. i stand here knowing my story is
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part of the larger american story, he said. buy debt to all those who came before me, and nowhere else on earth is my story even possible. nation, hess of our said, is not in the height of our skyscrapers or power of our military, or the size of our economy, rather the simple resins, -- premise. we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created, they are endowed by their creator with certain --lienable -- in alienable inalienable rights. he did not hesitate to give concrete examples of how we have fallen short and continue to follow short -- fall short. he encouraged americans to stand in solidarity. he said it allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single american family.
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and a half years later, march of 2008, barack obama walked out to another stage. this time in philadelphia, the -- had servediah -- surfaced. pastor withobama's incendiary remarks about the u.s. obama waited for the remarks to pass, but it only intensified. he decided to face the issue head-on by giving a speech on race in america. with much discussion of the speech's content, but note the frame. for a speech on race relations in the u.s. it was delivered at the national constitution center in philadelphia, rather than at a pastor church in atlanta. the opening was not taken from one of king's speeches, but from the preamble to the
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constitution. we the people, in order to form a more perfect union. the narrative itself was taken straight out of exit this -- exodus, talk of covenants, original sin, african slavery, people back sliding and marching, jim crow, civil rights, the promised land just over the horizon, in king's 11 community. civil religion had been torn to shreds by three decades of culture war. but somehow, obama had pieced it back together again. tattered as it was, it had not lost its appeal. that much is clear from the rapturous crowds at obama's rally. they resembled religious revivals. they were civil religious revivals. alas, the new version of civil
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religion was not as strong as the old one. it had been originally woven out of the exodus story, people who fled slavery for the promised land, who coveted together around -- came together around a common creed, wandered in the desert, broke the covenant, peer ed over the mountaintop. that was the thread obama was pulling on. but there is a second thread he old,too lightly, also very civil republicanism. it is a political idea that goes back to ancient greece and rome. it is the idea of a free and self-governing people, tha t -- that eschew the words of tyrants, by the people and for the people. he relied on the biblical story of exodus, the republican thread
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was mostly missing from his d itsty in that weakene considerably. what can we learn from this ancient story? a lot, i think. many of its most powerful lessons have been strongly vindicated in recent months. the first is that democratic institutions are very, very fragile. much more fragile than we americans tend to think. to the sort of constitution we have, benjamin franklin is supposed to reprise, the republic, if you can keep it. whether we do and will remain an open question. the second lesson is that progress is not irreversible. contemporary progressive sometimes imagine history is like an escalator, you just step on and it always moves up in the same direction, without much effort. for civic republicans, history
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is more like a car jack. a small increment of progress remarked -- requires an enormous effort. that progress can come crashing down very quickly if someone hits the release lever. a tiny little thumb on that lever right now. republicanism, civil republicans know, democratic institutions are easily corrupted. today we think of corruption narrowly as quid pro quo or pay to play, and there is certainly plenty of that. but civic republicans understand corruption more broadly as simply putting pride interests ahead of the public good. whether those interests are personal, corporate, or partisan. and that too, is pervasive. civic republicans know that free institutions require civic virtue.
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not virtue in the victorian and politeness, but in the ancient sense of bravery and self-sacrifice for the common good. the law and institutions alone are never enough. people must be ready and willing to defend them when necessary. to many of us forgotten in these ancient truths. this is one reason the american republic is currently in such great peril. probably the greatest danger it has been in since world war ii. the danger comes from within, rather than from without. byt danger is only magnified our current political polarization. it will not be easy. those of us or secular progressives might begin by recognizing the positive role that biblical religion has
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played in american history and the history of american progressivism itself. is incular progressivism many ways nothing else but a secularized version of religious progressivism. those of us who are religious conservatives need to ack nowledge the influence on american christianity itself. it holds -- we might shift our focus from the contentious issues about which we so often disagree to some of the core values about which we mostly do a great. equality and freedom, for example. both are enshrined in our founding documents. to these values i would add solidarity and inclusion. solidarity in the sense of care for the general welfare, in the
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constitution. and inclusion in our national unum. e pluribus equality, inclusion in solidarity. what seems to me to be their order of priority. freedom, then he quality, inclusion in solidarity. i know some would disagree, some might put equality before freedom or solidarity before inclusion. foundersrgue the understood freedom and political -- political terms. but you might disagree. maybe you understand freedom in mainly economic terms, freedom of property. maybe you think freedom -- religious freedom is our first freedom. these are arguments worth having, the arguments we should be having.
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some people think the source of our problem is that we argue too little. i think it is the opposite, that we argue too much. we engage in a lot of ad hominem attacks. the anonymity of social media has made the exchange of insults into a video game of sorts, the most popular one in this side of tetris or angry birds. conservative libertarians often insist freedom of speech must have absolute priority over consideration of social inclusion. liberal mulching -- multiculturalists counter the opposite. neither side wants to talk about how to balance freedom and inclusion. perhaps because it is hard. moral absolutism is much easier. the civil religious tradition
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will not resolve these debates for us. but it does at least tell us what we should be arguing about. and it does give us some examples of how we can resolve such arguments. what we should be arguing about equality, inclusion and how to balance them in our national and civic life. that is the american experiment. that these core values can somehow be brought into a measure of harmony. talk alone is not enough. we also need to repair civil society and rebuild civic solidarity. the first step in that direction might actually be to redirect some of our time, energy and money away from national electoral politics. we might start by investing in a place, not a virtual web 2.0 place, but a sky and earth and brick-and-mortar kind of place.
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we might stop asking what a place can do for us, and what we can do for a place. one way meet -- we might do that is by joining an organization. not a point and click kind of organization, but a meet and greet kind of organization. unmediated organization where people meet face-to-face and work together on common projects. it is important to work within our communities, we also need to work across them. our communities are highly segregated. more segregated than never, not only by race that now religion, party, class and age. we are all segregationists now, i am afraid. even the most cosmopolitan. we often have more friends and colleagues on the other side of the world than on the other side of the tracks.
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these are things we can do as individuals on our personal initiative, to rebuild civil society. what can we do together as a nation? propositions. first, a renewed program of civic education. many americans know very little about american institutions and even less about american history. why not give every american student the same civics test of that every applicant for american citizenship has to pass? why not make passing that tests the condition for graduating from high school? make civic holidays and the holidays again, days when people do not work and cannot shop. [laughter] philip: days when people might talk to neighbors or watch parades. make election day such a day, as it is in many countries. having a system of national service requires all young people spend a year or two doing
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something for their country. join the military, clearer trail, teach a class. no waivers, no exceptions. but my -- mostg, americans would support these measures. ordinaryt of things of american support, it is hard to imagine a becoming law. why? part because our political system is so corrupt and polarized nothing gets done. the source of that corruption is obvious, it is money, the endless flow of influence money. when five of the 10 richest theties in america are in washington, d.c. area, you know something is seriously wrong. i know we cannot stop the flow of money into politics, but that does not mean we should not slow it down. as for our polarization, the political parties are as much as to blame for cultural warriors. carved uprties have
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united states as a thanksgiving turkey to their advantage. there is a sophisticated gerrymandering, most districts are faced districts. they are more worried about primary challengers on the fringes of their party, than they are about electoral challengers from the other party. this would be easy to fix if everyone followed arizona's lead and put redistricting into the hand of independent, bipartisan commissions. candidates would be forced to run to the center instead of the fringes. not everyone will be interested in fixing the republic. a small handful are profiting handsomely from its demise and squirreling away the proceeds. others are so determined to win the culture war by any means necessary, democratic or not, they turn away, they are more interested blowing up the system than fixing.
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finally, still others are so disgusted, understandably, that they have turned away from politics altogether. who does that leave, exactly? a lot of us, i think. enough to turn things around if we were to pull together. as long as we are willing to listen to the better angels of our shared history. those of us were still committed to making hours a nation of nations and the people of peoples, that is the great experiment of american democracy. it is an intergenerational experiment, that outcome still unknown. ofis important for the eyes the world are still upon us and many would like us to fail. not just because they hate our freedom, some really do. but because they despise our diversity. they wager it is not possible to make a democratic people at as many people, and inclusive
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nation out of many nations. i for one, wager they are wrong, and i hope you do, too. america again,be a land that has never been, but a land that still could be. thank you. [applause] >> thank you, professor gorski, you have given us a lot to think about and i'm sure there will be questions. as we bring up the microphones, a reminder to please step alternate sides to find the microphone closest to you. remember this is a question and answer period, not a discussion period. i look forward to hearing your questions and professor gorski's response.
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audience member: [indiscernible] i can actually repeat the question. moore,stion is about roy who as many of you probably know, recently won the gop primary to fill the senate seat from alabama. is a former chief justice of the state supreme court of alabama, who had to vacate his seat due to various conflicts, including his insistence on putting a large monument to the 10 commandments in the state house.
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hasas been a guy who profited handsomely off the resulting controversies. this is one of those tricky issues. i think what this, the constitution says is that there has to be institutional separation between church and state. but it does not say there has to be a sonic separation between religion and politics. some extreme secularists say, religious voices cannot be heard in the public square. is wrong and even counterproductive because it forces people whose primary values are religious commitment to engage in a kind of hypocrisy, which they then get called out for. but i think in the case of ore, this isoy mo
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somebody in violation of various civic laws. hasbody who was willfully, tried to breach institutional separation as a means for his personal advancement. it is worrisome, but also a sign discussed i was speaking of that many people have about corrupt leaders in washington. it is hard to know how many people voted for him because they like him or agree with them or how many voted because they hate this luther strange guy, a preacher of the republican establishment in washington, d.c. when they if they had better they if theyuld had better choices? audience member: [indiscernible]
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some claim american christians reject science and scientific reasoning. philip: right. [laughter] philip: that is a very important question. i have one of my former graduate students spend a lot of time studying this. back toa lot of it goes the debate about evolution in the early 20th century, and the stance that some fundamentalist christians took during that period. somehow, to that defend a certain version, they had to reject the theory of evolution. but this has been increasingly expanded in recent years.
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remissse, one would be not to question the well-funded campaign of public misinformation about climate change, which has been funded by various people connected to the energy industry. they promoted this and expanded this. there was originally suspicion about evolution, and argument that expanded to climate change. how much longer this is sustainable, dozen other american city have to get knocked out before people start to see? does miami have to be underwater? just wait, it is all going to happen. sooner or later. audience member: this is actually a sports question. [laughter] philip: a sports comment? audience member: a sports comment-question. my dad always taught me sports
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are the last democratic bash and in the u.s. -- bastion in the u.s. if you are good and work hard you play and are rewarded. my comment to you, my question to you is, what is your thought on what is happening in the nfl today, and what is going on? it is a great question. dismayed i am really by the politicization that has happened. i have to say, i am broadly sympathetic with the guys who are kneeling. it is a fairly respectful gesture, it is not a black power
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salute, they are not just sitting down, going away, not doing anything disrespectful. they are just trying to call attention to a very serious problem. about thelittle bit way in which -- although i if you fought in a war, one of your children has, you find a disrespectful. what worries me about this is the way some people talk about the character of disrespect. that it is disrespecting the sacrifices people have made, as opposed to the values they sacrificed for. way, itee it in that becomes a little bit harder, it becomes a debate, it becomes more complicated. in some ways you could say, those guys are kneeling in defense of racial equality,
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which is something that is promised in the constitution. which is in their view and my view, still not achieved in this country. it really is dismaying. been one of the most meritocratic parts of american society. but one that is generated a certain kind of unity. two guys meet in a bar, what do they talk about? it is a common denominator between people, that brings people together in a friendly, amiable way, and help people connect and trust one another. this rituald to see turned into a source of division. it is really unfortunate. so many questions, so little
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time. what is your opinion of the religious freedom act and the tolity of the president appoint one more supreme court justice, that might make us a theocracy? i worry about who will be appointed, if there is another vacancy. while i do not agree with a lot of neil gorsuch's views, he does have a deep respect for law and for the rule of law. clown,ot an amateur or a or somebody who is just a
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complete political animal. i worry somebody like that could be, at the next appointment. i am still upset, mcconnell denying obama the chance to appoint -- somebody who was very centrist, should have been acceptable to everybody. would it have gotten 95 votes 10, 15, 20 years ago? i do worry about that. but i do not know if the big danger at this point is becoming a theocracy. the morees wonder, clear and present danger is in the rise of the secularized, white as snow nationalism -- ethno-nationalism. audience member: civic religion
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as you describe it and i understand it is not necessarily tied to a connection with a god or specific theology, but the fact that religion ties it to efectme sort of affect -- of bringing people together outside of intellectual processes? people have a skepticism toward religion of any kind. ideas toring about counter or work with that, and on the other hand from the individual level, avoid becoming extreme with civic religion. i think you are right to emphasize the difficulties that are there for secular and religious people to work
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together. there are plenty of counterexamples. is, there are young they may not call themselves evangelicals anymore, but young christians for whom and this is one of their most important goals, to work across these divides. they do not feel they are achieving their goals. unless they do work with people who are secular progressives, organizations. there are people on the ground is starting to do this experiment to find out ways in which it can work. i do not disagree with you that it will be difficult. i like yourber: suggestions about national service and civic engagement for high school students taking a
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kind of proficiency test. i am wondering what you think about how we could have people who are running for office to obama waswhen president we knew what was on his [indiscernible] we knew what he was reading. he revealed his philosophical, theological basis. what is a practical solution or idea for how we might engage budding politicians and lifelong politicians, to engage in the material and share with us where they are actually coming from and what is influencing them? philip: i do not know. i test for office for a higher office? tested the high school civics
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test to be able to run for president? that one would have worried us a few years ago, obviously. there are enough out in the ether, people agreed he did not have to be a reader and you still knew this stuff. inis an enormous failure civic education. i do not have any great ideas for this. i wish there were more college-level courses like this. colleagues of mind are teaching -- mine are teaching right now the american imagination, a survey course to introduce undergraduates to american political thought. different from your standard survey course on political philosophy, focuses on american political philosophy. something like that would be a great service. also in the sense, that is part
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of how knowledge reaches out into the broader community. it is not by educating everybody, but some folks who can educate others. audience member: i have been informed i am the last question. one the odd i am a student here, i feel like a lot of the messages students are getting from each other are that religion is counterintuitive to progress and positive things. i am someone that believes strongly in both religion and democracy and i want to know what your advice would be for young people who are going to continue this country, how to best balance the two? philip: to balance religion -- audience member: religion, equality, democracy together. because that can be difficult. rereading one was
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of my favorites, "democracy in america." the whole book is about america, but also about france. it allowed amount -- religion -- what has allowed religion to prosper in the u.s. has been for equality and democracy. a certainntained distance from politics without becoming completely apolitical. advice.pretty good it is advice that is not being heated right now -- heeded right now. a lot of conservative christians have been in a death embrace with the republican party for 35 or 40 years. this is one of the things driving a lot of people out of the churches, right?
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i just do not agree with those politics. people are leaving for political reasons, not religious reasons. rejecting the church because of their political stance. this is why these people do not say i am an atheist or not interested in religion. they say, i reject organized religion. advice.ld be part of my the other part of my advice would be, one of the bigger people ofyounger faith is to work again with people of no faith. to make that in and of itself a project, because that is really going to be one of the challenges. we become more culturally and religiously diverse in the coming decades. i do not know if that helps a little.
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could take a moment to thank all of you for coming today and the marvelous questions you have put before us and ask you again to join me in thanking professor gorski. [applause] >> if you did not have a chance to ask your questions, please feel free to join professor gorski in the entry way out there and pick out -- pick up a copy of his book. pay for it first. [laughter] and you can get it autographed. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] are watching american history tv, 48 hours of programming on american history every weekend on c-span3. forow us on twitter information on our schedule and to keep up with the latest
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history news. war, authorhe civil brian matthew jordan talks about the battle of the south mountain, five during robert e. lee's first invasion of the north, in the lead up to another battle. he describes general this hour-long talk was part of great defenses of the civil war, hosted by the emerging civil war blog. so great to be i'm honored to be here in support of the great work of the emerging civil war. give a lot of talks at around tables around the country. i hear the same ec


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