War and the American Difference

Christianity and democracy in America were and continue to be, through the experience of war, inextricably linked. Thus Arthur McGiffert, the president of Union Theological Seminary, argued that religion was necessary "to promote and sustain democracy." Religion, according to McGiffert, had to dispose of its "egoistic and other-worldly character" by becoming socially responsible. "The religion of democracy," he warned, "must cease to minister to selfishness by promising personal salvation, and must cease to impede human progress by turning the attention of religious men from the conditions here to rewards elsewhere." Such was the lesson to be learned from war.

 

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Stanley Hauerwas is the Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics at the Divinity School of Duke University with a joint appointment at Duke Law School. He was named "America's Best Theologian" by Time magazine in 2001.

11/10/2009 5:00:00 AM