Here’s my interview with political scientist Samuel Goldman of George Washington University, who heads the Loeb Institute on Religious Freedom, about disharmony in American politics, especially amid protests and riots.
Goldman, who authored God’s Country: Christian Zionism in America, self-identifies as non-religious but is extremely insightful about American religion and public life. Here he discusses the current upheaval as a struggle between competing claims of America’s founding creed, specifically between just equality and ordered liberty.
Across its history America, due to its Puritan and revivalistic past, has repeatedly cycled through times of national guilt, repentance and searches for national atonement. The response to the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis is the latest example.
But Goldman wonders, unlike in the era of Martin Luther King and Civil Rights, if post Protestant America still has the spiritual and cultural tools to move from guilt and repentance towards atonement. The collapse of Mainline Protestantism, which mediated the rituals of civil religion, has left a national void that Evangelicals and Catholics have not filled. Goldman sees a religious revival as possible but is uncertain of its composition.
You’ll enjoy this conversation.