Category: Secularization


Does America Need a Christian Democratic Party?

With all the tumult in the American political landscape recently, is the United States pump primed for a Christian Democratic party similar to those in Europe? Three scholars debate this topic based upon a scholarly symposium published in the journal “Perspectives on Political Science.” Prof. Hunter Baker (Union University), the organizer of the symposium, argues that the time is right for Christian Democracy in America. Prof. Bryan McGraw (Wheaton College) notes that while Christian Democracy (CD) was helpful in Europe for consolidating democracy during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the conditions in the U.S. are not ripe for CD. Finally, Prof. Micah Watson (Calvin College) takes a decidedly negative position towards the concept of CD. Your host, Tony, chimes in with his own thoughts at the end.

Let us know your position by clicking “read more” and commenting on our discussion board.

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Ani Sarkissian on Politics & Religious Civil Society in Turkey (Encore Presentation)

In light of the interesting political developments in Turkey this past year, we dip into our archives to feature an encore presentation with Prof. Ani Sarkissian discussing the relationship between religious civil society and politics in Turkey.

More new episodes on the way.

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Frank Newport on Survey Research and American Religiosity (Encore Presentation)

Encore Presentation: Dr. Frank Newport, the Editor-in-Chief at Gallup, discusses the process of public opinion research and what it tells us about America’s changing religious landscape. We spend a significant amount of time discussing how polls are conducted, what their limitations are, and how survey companies like Gallup try to overcome these problems. This is a fantastic primer for those who are unfamiliar with survey research. We spend the second half of the interview discussing Dr. Newport’s book, “God Is Alive & Well,” which argues that America is still a vibrantly spiritual nation.

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Joseph O. Baker on American Secularism

America has become less religious in recent years. To explore this phenomenon, both in its present form and situated historically, we invite Prof. Joseph O. Baker of Eastern Tennessee State University to talk about the history and contemporary dimensions of American secularism(s). He notes that secularism does not necessarily mean atheism, but includes an array of different categories. We also discuss some of the reasons for the recent increase in “nones,” including family structure, changing sexual norms, and political polarization.

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Rodney Stark on The Triumph of Faith

The decline of religion around the world may be greatly exaggerated. Returning for his sixth appearance on our podcast, Prof. Rodney Stark, co-founder of Baylor’s ISR, discusses his new book “The Triumph of Faith” and reviews how the religious landscapes in various countries and regions of the world has been greatly transformed in the past half century. We look at “nones” from the United States, the rise of indigenous Christianity in Africa, and how even the Japanese still rely upon Shinto priests for blessings.

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Joseph Castleberry on the New Pilgrims

Dr. Joseph Castleberry, president of Northwest University, discusses how the recent wave of immigrants have been revitalizing religion in America, both spiritually and in terms of civil religion. He connects this revitalization back early “great awakenings” in American history that were spurred by waves of individuals coming to America in search of greater opportunity, and relays stories of how the “new pilgrims” are planting churches and inspiring success.

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Daniel Libenson on Present and Future Judaism

In a wonderful complement to last week’s episode, Daniel Libenson — creator of jUChicago and The Institute for the Next Jewish Future — discusses the religious challenges facing Judaism in contemporary America and what might need to happen in the future. We explore these issues through the lens of his work with Hillel and his other institutional creations, and how he is using “design thinking” to provide creative ways to engage secular Jews in their historical faith.

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Carmel Chiswick on the Economics of Being Jewish in America.

How does an economist discuss being a religious minority in America? Prof. Carmel Chiswick returns to the podcast to discuss her new book “Judaism in Transition.” Using the tools of economics — particularly the concepts of full price, time costs, and human capital — explains the challenges American Jews face in a Christian culture and how Judaism has changed over time to reflect responses to various costs and benefits. We also talk about some of the newer demographic challenges facing Jews, including intermarriage, later marriage, and empty nesters.

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John Owen IV on Confronting Political Islam, Historical Lessons

As ISIS, al-Qaeda, and other radical forms of political Islam take center stage in the news and policy circles, can we learn anything about the broad-based movement known as Islamism from the history of Europe? Prof. John Owen IV discusses how the West has dealt with its own radical ideological struggles and the parallels we can draw to the present situation in the Middle East and North Africa. Does a Scottish rebellion in the 1560s have anything worth informing us about the Taliban? Find out!

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David Bentley Hart on Atheist Delusions

By listener request, David Bentley Hart joins us to discuss his award-winning book, “Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and its Fashionable Enemies.” We cover who these “new” atheists are, how they differ from the old atheists, and Prof. Hart’s general reactions to more common claims by atheist scholars about the Christian past and the “Age of Reason.”

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