Although John F. Kennedy proclaimed an "absolute" separation of church and state, faithful Catholics have long struggled to maintain a connection between faith and politics.
The intersection between church and state has always been a sticking point for Americans, especially for those in public office. During recent election cycles, we've witnessed spiritual compromise by self-described Catholic politicians and the attack of popular media against socially conservative candidates. This year, the tension between church and state came to a head with the major confrontation between the Catholic Bishops and the Obama administration over policy decisions.
Get to the Source
Dr. Bradley Birzer reaches deep into American history to present a study of the conflict between Catholics, the Church, and the federal government. The Founding Fathers made it clear they believed that personal religion had everything to do with politics - but somewhere in our country's history we've lost that understanding.
Professor Birzer discusses the Founding Fathers and highlights the influence Catholics have had in the formation of our country. After all, one of the Fathers was a Catholic named Charles Carroll. Professor Birzer provides an in-depth look at Carroll's role in the foundation of the United States of America in a dynamic treatment spanning two lectures.
Keeping the Faith Alive
Religion, and Catholicism in particular, continued to influence politics and culture through the great religious revivals of the Second Great Awakening in the late 19th century. In fact, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in his 1835 classic, Democracy in America, that the United States enjoyed a "great unity of Christianity. . . . There can be no greater proof of its utility, and of its conformity to human nature, than that its influence is most powerfully felt over the most enlightened and free nation of the earth."
Dr. Birzer explains this great unity, and the soaring church membership that occurred during the Great Awakening . . . and what it meant for both Christianity and the state.
Down, but Not Out
Although Americans might not enjoy the same unity of Christianity we did a century ago, its fundamental principles continue to influence powerfully literature, academia, social issues, and political parties.
Join Professor Birzer for a study in American history and politics, and how Catholics have shaped our country in the past and continue to influence its direction into the future.
Professor Bradley Birzer holds a Doctorate from Indiana University in Bloomington. He is the Russell Amos Kirk Chair in History and Director of the American Studies Program at Hillsdale College, Michigan. He is the author of Sanctifying the World: The Augustinian Life and Mind of Christopher Dawson (Christendom Press, 2007) and American Cicero: The Life of Charles Carroll (Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2010). He is Chairman of the Board of Academic Advisors for the Center for the American Idea in Houston, as well as a board member for Sapientia Press and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.