9780465008872 / 0465008879

God's Name In Vain


Publisher:Basic Books



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About the book:

God's Name In Vain: The Wrongs and Rights of Religion in Politics is a timely work of cultural history by Stephen L Carter, a professor at Yale Law School and the author of The Culture of Disbelief. The book presents two interrelated arguments:

First, that there is nothing wrong and much right with the robust participation of the nation's many religious voices in debates over matters of public moment. Second, that religions--although not democracy--will almost always lose their best, most spiritual selves when they choose to be involved in the partisan, electoral side of politics.
In making these arguments, God's Name in Vain cites historical anecdotes ranging from the Abolitionist movement to the Christian Coalition. Carter's writing is rhetorically powerful, his historical knowledge is estimable and his spiritual and political convictions are passionate. But Carter's real crusade in God's Name In Vain is not intellectual, theological or political. It is moral. He writes in the book's Introduction:
[M]orality, in religious terms, is nothing but the actual practice of one's religious faith. Religion is what we profess and morality is what it moves us to do. Politics needs morality, which means that politics needs religion.
The idea is interesting and it is popular but it is a fallacy. Even Carter's most devout readers may be disappointed that his elegant ideology is blind to the reality of secular morality. --Michael Joseph Gross

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