“One striking feature about religious commitment today is how closely it aligns with conservative politics. Religiously committed Americans are very likely to vote Republican. Yet it wasn’t always that way. Alexis de Tocqueville famously attributed the strength of American religion to its distance from politics. Because religion in America distanced itself from politics, it had less power but greater influence. Religion in Europe, by contrast, allied itself with political power but was weak and diminished. The current “europeanization” of American politics should be the occasion for wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Europe’s churches, confronted with the changes of modernity, considered catering to power the best defense against waning influence. Easy prey for reactionary politics, Europe’s churches frequently found themselves allied with the losers of history. Secularization, originally concerned with reducing ecclesiastical privileges, became synonymous with progress itself. The history of Christianity in the modern period suggests that political alliances bring short-term gains and long-term loss. Today Europe is most likely the most secular place on earth.”
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