Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Inventing a Christian America

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Inventing a Christian America

Article excerpt

INVENTING A CHRISTIAN AMERICA

By Steven K. Green (Oxford, 2015)

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Teaching the history of religion I frequently have to wave my students off from "always" and "never" statements. "Jews and Muslims have never gotten along." Actually, in medieval Spain they lived and worked together quite well. "Christianity has always been bad for women." For many women, Christianity offered more positive roles than the Roman state religion they abandoned. In Inventing a Christian America: The Myth of the Religious Founding, Steven Green takes on a particularly potent "always"--the idea that the United States has always been a Christian nation.

Accessible to the lay reader, Green's book examines the development of American Christian thought from the 1600s to the early 1800s, giving valuable context to some of the era's popular religious motifs. John Winthrop's use of the biblical "city upon a hill" to describe the Massachusetts Bay Colony, for example, was a reminder to fellow Puritans to be good examples of Puritanism for their co-religionists back home. …

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