Christians in the American Empire: Faith and Citizenship in the New World Order

Christians in the American Empire: Faith and Citizenship in the New World Order

Christians in the American Empire: Faith and Citizenship in the New World Order

Christians in the American Empire: Faith and Citizenship in the New World Order

Synopsis

"Christians in the American Empire demonstrates how Christianity has been appropriated and distorted to justify American imperialism and the military violence necessary to expand it. This current system has weakened America's already tenuous social cohesion and has made American Christians increasingly suspicious of one another." "In this book, Vincent Rougeau argues that it is unwise for Christians to think that focusing on hot-button issues is an appropriate way to actualize faith commitments in the public realm. He rejects the idea that "freedom" means simply individual empowerment and asserts instead that the Christian premise of the God-given dignity of the human being can be realized only in community with others." "Using examples from American law and public policy, welfare reform, affirmative action, and immigration, Christians in the American Empire demonstrates how the American legal system embodies and promotes individualistic and libertarian thinking. While these ideas are suited for the needs of American capitalism, they stand in deep tension with Catholic social thought and other traditions of Christian orthodoxy." "Ultimately, Rougeau calls on American Christians to reject the vision of faith and nation proffered by the religious right in favor of a more Christian cosmopolitanism. Christians in the American Empire offers concerned Christians new tools for a critical assessment of legal, political, and social questions and provides a new model of public engagement for Christians in America."

Excerpt

I have spent the better part of the last two decades teaching law at two Catholic universities in the United States. Although I myself am Catholic, before I began my career in academia I had never attended a Catholic school, nor had I ever been officially associated with Catholic education in any formal capacity. I am pleased to say that, after a lifetime in secular settings, I found teaching in Catholic institutions intellectually stimulating and personally invigorating in ways entirely new to me. For the first time, I was able to integrate my faith commitments with my intellectual life in a way that was not purely private. Moreover, with students and faculty from a wide range of faith traditions, I was free to discuss the contributions of religious thought to our understandings of legal concepts to a degree that had not been possible in other academic environments.

After the tragedies of September II, however, I sensed a fundamental change in the climate on many Catholic university campuses. It became increasingly apparent to me that religious believers— Catholics in particular—were being asked to declare their allegiance to religious “truth” in a way that seemed to align rather conveniently with the political program of the Republican Party. Of course, the American “culture wars” had long been simmering and subsequent to these battles, and evangelical Protestantism and the Protestant mainstream had further divided themselves into conservative and liberal camps that in fact closely tracked the agendas of the Republican and Democratic parties. Yet, up to this point, the situation . . .

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