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Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

A Republic of Prophets: Civil Religion and Culture Wars from Winthrop to Obama

Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

obama at charleston

Philip Gorski
Yale University 

Date: Wednesday, September 16, 2015
Time: 12:00 - 1:15 PM
Location: Boisi Center, 24 Quincy Road

RSVP Required


Abstract: The American Republic is being torn apart by a culture war between religious nationalists and radical secularists. The best hope for reconstituting its vital center lies in the nation's centuries-old civil religious tradition, a distinctly American synthesis of prophetic religion and civil republicanism. While the prophetic side of the tradition is alive and well – think of Obama's eulogy in Charleston – the republican leg desperately needs strengthening.   


Philip Gorski is Professor of Sociology and Religious Studies at Yale University, with research interests in secularization, nationalism, and the interaction of religion and politics in the U.S. and Europe. He is currently the co-director of Yale’s Center for Comparative Research and is a co-director of the MacMillan Center’s Initiative on Religion, Politics, and Society. He is the author of numerous articles, and his books on religion and politics include The Protestant Ethic Revisited and The Disciplinary Revolution: Calvinism and the Rise of the State in Early Modern Europe. He is a consulting editor to the American Sociological Review and a co-editor of Sociological Theory. His latest book, A Republic of Prophets, is forthcoming from Princeton University Press. Gorski holds a B.A. from Harvard College and a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley. 

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Kim Davis’ refusal to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples has ignited a national debate that highlights the radical secular and religious nationalist groups within our nation. In his talk at the Boisi Center, Yale Professor of Sociology and Religious Studies Philip Gorski criticized these two extremes and offered civil religion as a voice for the majority of Americans who make up the vital center.