Tocqueville's Civil Religion

American Christianity and the Prospects for Freedom

By Sanford Kessler

Subjects: Political Science
Series: SUNY series in Religion, Culture, and Society
Paperback : 9780791419304, 238 pages, July 1994
Hardcover : 9780791419298, 238 pages, July 1994

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Table of contents



1. Introduction

2. Tocqueville's Approach to Religion

3. Tocqueville's Christianity

4. Tocquevile's Religious Statesmanship

5. America's Religious Horizon

6. Christianity and America's Political Health

7. The Securalization of American Morals

8. Future Prospects

9. A Summing Up


Works Cited



Sanford Kessler offers a provocative and timely analysis of Alexis de Tocqueville's views on the relationship between Christianity and American democracy. These views are central to Tocqueville's discussions of the moral requirements of freedom and the tasks of democratic statesmanship.

Tocqueville's thinking about American religion is highly relevant to contemporary debates regarding America's origins, the current strength of American Christianity, and the proper role of religion in American public life. Kessler skillfully demonstrates how Tocqueville incorporates his ideas into an analysis of the American character, a factor in American politics that he considered more important than the Constitution. This book will challenge the thinking of all Americans concerned with religious-political issues and with the prospects for freedom.

Sanford Kessler is Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Administration at North Carolina State University and Adjunct Associate Professor of Political Science at Duke University.


"Kessler is a marvelous critic—shrewd and sympathetic; he admires Tocqueville, but he does not hesitate to criticize Tocqueville's thinking or to present Tocqueville's argument even where it jars contemporary sensibilities. This book is certain to challenge and focus the thinking of anyone concerned about Tocqueville or the place of religion and democracy in America." — Wilson Carey McWilliams, Rutgers University