The English novelist G. K. Chesterton concluded in 1920 that the United States are a nation with the soul of a church. Even today Europeans tend to be slightly irritated by the rise of Mega Churches, Congressional Prayer Meetings, and the nation’s apparent belief in its manifest destiny. The United States are perceived as more religious than Europe, but what are the political and cultural ramifications of the nation’s presumably deep-rooted religiosity?
This panel discussion organized by the Institute of North American Studies aims to take the upcoming elections as an entry point to a broader debate about the role of religion in American political and public life. The panel is composed of leading experts in the field of U.S. religion from both sides of the Atlantic. The panel will discuss the different cultural layers of the interplay between religion and politics, the concept of civil religion, and the politics of religious pluralism in the United States. The panel will focus in particular on the role of organized religion and personal faith in the upcoming elections with regard to the presidential candidates, religious pressure groups, and the voting citizens.
Uta Andrea Balbier, Coordinator of the Institute of North American Studies at King’s and lecturer in U.S. history. She is about to complete her monograph on Billy Graham’s Cold War Crusades. Massevangelism, Consumerism, and the Free World in Europe and the United States.
Laurie Maffly-Kipp, Professor and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at UNC Chapel Hill. Her most recent book is Setting Down the Sacred Past: African American Race Histories published by Harvard University Press in 2010.
Kendrick Oliver, Reader in U.S. history at the University of South Hampton and director of the Centre for Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies. His new book To Touch the Face of God: the Sacred, the Profane and the American Space Program, 1957-75, is currently in press with Johns Hopkins University Press., is currently in press with Johns Hopkins University Press.
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