America is Too Damn Religious

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Wednesday, February 7, 2007

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  • Susan Jacoby

    For

    Susan Jacoby

    Author

  • Rev. Barry W. Lynn

    For

    Rev. Barry W. Lynn

    Executive Director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State

  • Alan Wolfe

    For

    Alan Wolfe

    Professor of Political Science and Director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College

  • Jean Bethke Elshtain

    Against

    Jean Bethke Elshtain

    Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics at the University of Chicago

  • Against

    William A. Galston

    Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution

  • Albert J. Raboteau

    Against

    Albert J. Raboteau

    Henry W. Putnam Chair in Religion at Princeton University

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Susan Jacoby

For The Motion

Susan Jacoby

Author

Susan has written several books including Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism and Wild Justice: The Evolution of Revenge, a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 1984. Jacoby’s articles and essays have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Harper’s, and the New Republic, among other publications.

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Rev. Barry W. Lynn

For The Motion

Rev. Barry W. Lynn

Executive Director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State

Rev. Barry has been the executive director of Americans United since 1992. A long-time civil liberties attorney and ordained minister, Lynn is a frequent guest on television and radio talk and news programs. His daily talk show, “Culture Shocks”, is heard on radio stations around the country. Lynn is the author of book Piety & Politics: The Right Wing Assault on Religious Freedom, which was released in October 2006.

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Alan Wolfe

For The Motion

Alan Wolfe

Professor of Political Science and Director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College

Alan's books include Does American Democracy Still Work? and The Transformation of American Religion: How We Actually Practice Our Faith. He currently chairs a task force of the American Political Science Association on "Religion and Democracy in the United States."

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Jean Bethke Elshtain

Against The Motion

Jean Bethke Elshtain

Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics at the University of Chicago

Jean is a political philosopher. Her books include Public Man, Private Woman: Women in Social Thought, The Family in Political Thought, and Democracy on Trial. In 2006, she was appointed by President George W. Bush to the Council of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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William A. Galston

Against The Motion

William A. Galston

Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution

Prior to 2006, William was a professor at the School of Public Policy, University of Maryland; director of the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy; and founding director of the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. From 1993 until 1995, Galston served as deputy assistant to President Clinton for Domestic Policy.

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Albert J. Raboteau

Against The Motion

Albert J. Raboteau

Henry W. Putnam Chair in Religion at Princeton University

Albert specializes in religion in America, teaching and researching in the areas of African-American religious history, Roman Catholicism in America, and religion and social reform. He has served as chair of his department and dean of the Graduate School at Princeton. His publications include Slave Religion, A Fire in the Bones, Canaan Land, and A Sorrowful Joy.

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Declared Winner: For The Motion

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About This Event

3 comments

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  • Comment Link Tom C Thursday, 22 May 2014 13:03 posted by Tom C

    The moderator did a terrible job! Totally lost control of this debate, let the debater wander off-topic away from the resolution, interrupted opening remarks with a loud mid-sentence interruption.

  • Comment Link Trevor G Friday, 03 May 2013 16:04 posted by Trevor G

    On the question if the commonplace Christian religion is an overall good or ill effect in American society, it seems to bear noting that the religious have historically been among the most active combatants on BOTH sides of each issue. Slavery, war, and civil rights leaders did indeed very often have strong religious sentiments even if they focused on non-religious arguments.

    It bears noting, however, that the non-religious elements tend to side largely with one side of the the religious, the same side that has gained the most popular approval over time. The non-religious are now far more likely to be on the "right" side of civil rights issues, even if they do not feel as compelled to go out and argue loudly in the public forum.

    Now, if the opposing side was largely wiped out without their religion, or lost much fervor because they no longer believed their prejudices, biases, and ignorance to be directed by God, what would the effect be?

    Women's and gay rights are being largely pushed by the non-religious. Economic concerns, embodied by the Occupy movement, are largely non-religious, and so forth. The atheists were far less likely to support the recent wars, and more likely to support government welfare programs. If vast swathes of the country stopped arguing so vehemently against these positions, would there be need of counter-preachers to win them over?

    One could therefore submit that all the arguments in favor of the good fights of religion are largely fights within itself, fueled by its own propensities. The hero worship paid to certain religiously inspired leaders is not worth the collateral damage to people's lives due to the "damn religion" they were fighting.

  • Comment Link John Hurd Wednesday, 06 February 2013 12:00 posted by John Hurd

    Dr. Elshtain invokes the names of Martin Luther King, who obviously did great good while a man of the cloth. But wait -- America was full of ministers who endorsed slavery for hundreds of years! Why didn't she mention that? I'm sure many slave-owners went to Church and prayed regularly. Let's not cherry-pick, Dr. Elshtain.

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