Religion in America … must be regarded as the foremost of the political institutions of that country; for if it does not impart a taste for freedom, it facilitates the use of it. Indeed, it is in this same point of view that the inhabitants of the United States themselves look upon religious belief. I do not know whether all Americans have a sincere faith in their religion-for who can search the human heart? But I am certain that they hold it to be indispensable to the maintenance of republican institutions. This opinion is not peculiar to a class of citizens or a party, but it belongs to the whole nation and to every rank of society.
-Alexis De Tocqueville, Democracy In America
De Tocqueville was one of America’s great outside observers in the 19th century. One hundred and twenty years after he wrote Democracy In America, American relgious observance hit its peak in the early 1960’s. Since then religious observance and belief has been on the decline, but not dramatatically so. The recent Pew Study gives a very detailed snapshot of American religious life. What does it mean and why does it matter?
- The Pew Study we reference can be found here: http://www.pewforum.org/2015/11/03/u-s-public-becoming-less-religious/
- We mention a book by Robert Putnman called American Grace. You can find it here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003UV8TEA/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?ie=UTF8&btkr=1
- The article by Chris Cilliza, “The largest religious group among Democrats? ‘None.'”, can be found here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2015/11/03/the-largest-religious-group-among-democrats-none/