U.S. Intellectual History Blog

More on the Myth of Religious Freedom

Since Atlanta was shut down last week because of the snow/ice, this semester is finally beginning for me. Without much time to come up with a post for today, I offer more on the myth of American religious freedom from my weekend op-ed at the Huffington Post:

Here’s the first paragraph:
Today (Jan. 16) is the National Day of Religious Freedom, a day in which we are supposed both to recognize our nation’s heritage of religious liberty and to promote that liberty to the world. But as Walter Lippmann once said, “Nations make their histories to fit their illusions,” and the American celebration of our religious freedom is no exception. Our self-conception is in fact based on a three-fold myth of American religious freedom that distorts the current debate about religion in public life.
Read the rest here.

One Thought on this Post

  1. (Speaking from experience rather than research) Evangelicals have such an odd relationship to history. Particularly Baptists. They are focused on an individual’s ability to interpret the scriptures, so all the ways that those interpretations are based in historical arguments are very unclear to most parishioners. The church history maybe goes back to the first big personality that founded it in the 1960s or more recently. And yet there is frequent references to this bizarre combo of a romantic 1950s and founding fathers philosophy that justifies their patriotism. Growing up in the church taught me how to close read and reverence for words, but has also haunted me with an anti-intellectualism. It gave me my curiosity for other cultures and follows me with a fear of Western/Christian chauvinism.

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