Friday, November 18, 2016

Tocqueville on Religion in America

From chapter 17 of his book Democracy In America, published in 1835:
Religion in America takes no direct part in the government of society, but it must be regarded as the first of their political institutions; for if it does not impart a taste for freedom, it facilitates the use of it. Indeed, it is in this same point of view that the inhabitants of the United States themselves look upon religious belief. I do not know whether all Americans have a sincere faith in their religion--for who can search the human heart?--but I am certain that they hold it to be indispensable to the maintenance of republican institutions. This opinion is not peculiar to a class of citizens or to a party, but it belongs to the whole nation and to every rank of society.
It is no surprise, then, that as we lose this religious foundation we are, at the same time, losing the liberties that have made America unique.

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