American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites the US

In the America Grace, the authors Putnam Robert D. and Campbell David E. have presented an analysis of the American religion giving the detail of the changes that have taken place in the American history in terms of religion. The book has been written after an extensive research and analysis that were conducted using the scientific and sociological approach. The book explores how civically engaged believers conduct themselves in the United States in relation to the dynamics of conversation and the role of ethnicity, class and gender. The Americans who are religious have been perceived as people who are tolerant and more diverse in comparison with their counterparts who are secular citizens (Campbell and Putnam 142).

In the analysis of the book, the authors have explained various findings that have been perceived as changes in the religious sector. The book is said to give a story of a religious earthquake as well as the two aftershocks as explained by Campbell and Putnam. In the American history, Christianity was based on evangelicalism at the pick in the 1970s, but this was different in the 1990s as well as at the beginning of the 21st century where most Americans view the issue of evangelicalism as a thing of the past (Campbell and Putnam 562).

One of the aftershocks discovered in the book is that of sexism. In the analysis of the American Grace, the authors say that in the early 1980s, Americans viewed the issue of premarital sex as something that was wrong depending on the instances that led to the occurrence of the action while some of the believers viewed it as something that was totally immoral in relation to the doctrines of their religion. This perception changed faces in the 1990’s where twenty four percent approximately of the Americans perceived premarital sex as something acceptable. In the analysis conducted, the results obtained revealed that this percentage has increased to an approximation of forty eight percent indicating the change in the beliefs held by American believers (Campbell and Putnam 486).

Another finding that was discovered in the analysis is that since the 21st century, religion and politics have been going hand in hand more consistently than it was the case in the past three centuries. Since the beginning of the 21st century, people who are more religious are perceived to be more conservative in matters related to politics while those who are less religious are perceived as being more liberal in the sense that they can participate both in religious and in the political issues. Putnam and Campbell argue that due to this kind of conservatism, youth believers have walked out of their religions with the claim that religious matters have become more discriminating as well as hypocritical (Campbell and Putnam 550).

This issue of liberalism and conservatism has been noticed to cut across the Black American Protestants, the White evangelical as well as the Jews. The Black Protestants and the Jews are perceived as people who remain being liberal in matters related to politics as compared to white evangelical Protestants who are still conservative. The religion of the white evangelical Protestants is more bound up with ethnicity issues and this case is quite different from the Catholics and other Protestants. Campbell and Putnam indicate that this issue of the white evangelical came to an end in the late 1990s. In the 21st century, it is noted that there are no other religion that dominates in the supreme court of America other than the Catholics religion which seems to be more vibrant in all sectors across the country. Research shows that this number of the Catholics has increased tremendously in the American country due to the increased numbers of Latinos who have kept on immigrating into the country since the 1960s (Campbell and Putnam 441).

During the 1990s, the evangelical people were identified with the republican conservative while those believers who were liberal across the board were identified as Democrats. This issue of identifying the religious groups with parties was not in existence in the past years of the American history as discovered by Campbell and Putnam but it is something that cropped up in the late 1990s. In the 20th century, there was a remarkable change in the manner in which people identified themselves in relation to the denomination that they believed in. In this case, the Methodist group, whether a churchgoer or not, was simply identified as Republicans while the Catholics were perceived as democrats. In the analysis, it is noticed that this issue has changed since the beginning of the 21st century. The identification has changed that whether a Methodist or a Catholic, one is simply said to be a republican and those with no religion are the ones identified as Democrats (Campbell and Putnam 450).

In the review of the book the American Grace, critics of the book have noticed that the authors have not analyzed other religions like Hinduism, Islam and Buddhism. In their discussions, they indicate that this happened so because the three religions constitute very few members hence a small number that creates difficulties when carrying out a statistical analysis. Critics indicate that the issue of claiming that the other three religions are small in number for a clear statistical analysis to be carried out is not justifiable since it is likely to take a very long time in fact decades for their numbers to increase as expected. This claim is not of help the Americans because, at the moment, the Muslim religion has evoked great attention in the country since it is the faith that is said to be the main group of religion that is associated with the American violence (Campbell and Putnam 578).

In regard with the radical Muslim’s targeting Americans, it is inevitable to discuss Islam as a religion in the analysis of the American as a recognized religion. Even though Campbell and Putnam argue that when the Americans discover much about a religion they tend to admire that particular religion more, this could not be the case with Islam as a religion which perceives the Americans as people with a satanic ideologies. In relation to the September 11 instance of terrorism where the Islam as religion is greatly connected to the issue, this approach is not viable because it gives very little information about the religion in America hence very difficult for one to understand about the so many incidents connected to religion that take place in American (Campbell and Putnam 612).

In conclusion, Putnam and Campbell have provided a well researched and analyzed information about the American religion which helps the Americans understand the various values they have in common as a country and the major changes which have taken place in the American religious history for the last three centuries. In the sociological point of view, the book has concentrated on the main streams of the American religion marginalizing the minor groups especially the Islam religion which needs to take a different approach so as to cater for the interests of all Americans in relation to insecurity issues.

Work Cited

Campbell, David and Robert Putnam. American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites US. Simon & Schuster: New York, 2010. Print