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Defending Democracy on Religious Grounds

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Description

In an era when the loudest religious voices openly support authoritarian figures and movements, it is worth remembering that some of democracy’s most vigorous defenders have done so on religious grounds. One such defender was the mid-twentieth century ethicist and political philosopher Reinhold Niebuhr, who drew on Christian understandings of human nature and social justice to assert the importance of defending democratic pluralism against fascism and communism. Niebuhr’s argument provided a template for the Vital Center Liberalism that shaped American political culture in the early Cold War period and steeled American resolve to uphold democratic values. Today, Niebuhr’s work helps us understand the root causes of authoritarian resurgence and offers insight into how religious categories and frameworks can bolster our commitment to democracy. 

 

Guest Speaker:
Dr. Jeremy Sabella studies religion and politics in the post-World War II era. His first book, An American Conscience, examines the life and legacy of twentieth-century ethicist, theologian, and social critic Reinhold Niebuhr. It serves as a companion to the award-winning documentary by the same name, for which Sabella was the lead consultant. His recent work features commentary on the NFL kneeling controversies and religious responses to the COVID pandemic.  His next book in progress explores how the apocalyptic and Manichean language used to frame Cold War conflict persists in contemporary politics. Sabella has taught at Yale Divinity School and Fairfield University and currently lectures at Dartmouth College.

 

This talk will take place on Tuesday, June 18 from 5:30 to 7:00 pm at the Manchester Community Library and online via live stream.

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