The Religious Situation in the United States 175 Years After Tocqueville

Author: José Casanova

January 1, 2011

In "The Religious Situation in the United States 175 Years After Tocqueville," José Casanova views Tocqueville as an opponent of secularism, who appreciated the American religious experience and tied it to the separation of church and state. Casanova argues that Tocqueville provides a valuable sociological understanding of denominationalism in the modern United States. Casanova says that while traditional measurements of faith may be declining, religiosity is not; people simply practice their faith individually, which he sees as consistent with Tocqueville's perspective. Casanova does critique Tocqueville's argument, first saying that denominationalism did not emerge from the Puritan colonies in New England, and adding that immigration and race play a key part in forming new and open denominations, which Tocqueville either ignored or distorted. Casanova states that Tocqueville is less incorrect about religion not entering politics than modern viewers may suspect, as religious political participation appears to rise and ebb. This essay is a chapter in Crediting God: Sovereignty and Religion in the Age of Global Capitalism, edited by Miguel Vatter.

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