American Grace is a book written by Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell and was published by Simon & Schuster in two thousand and ten. Putnam is a professor public policy and renowned sociology from Harvard. On the other hand, Campbell is a professor of political science at Notre Dame. The two authors focus widely on the surveying facts that investigates the conduct and attitudes that religious beliefs generate among people and various groups. The writing is based on their study of sociological and behavioural trends among Americans. The authors therefore call for readers and analysts to view it as neutral observers. The book takes deep evaluation of how can be considered the lines through which religion either unites or divides Americans. The book is written from the perspective that Americans in general have for a long time remained tolerant to each other in spite of the broad religious diversity.
Campbell and Putnam decisively explore the contemporary state of religion in the United States today. The issues they consider include the issues that control the present religious form in the U.S. They compare the personalities of people who have faith to those who do not hold any faith among many other issues. Putnam and Campbell begin the book by tracing the history of religion in America (Putnam & Campbell 19). They delve in the history of how religion in America found itself where it is today. This builds up to clearly get a definite role of religion whether it helps in the unity or the division of the people of America. Throughout their work, they give snapshots of how religion relates to civic values and politics. The content of the book qualifies to be included in the group of sociology of religion. In their findings, they capture the variance and energy that is held by religion in America while taking positive views about it.
The analysis by the two professors is relevant bearing in mind that there has been a surge in the tension between inter-faiths last few years. This is associated with the September 11 terror attack, religious demonstrations some of them leading to the burning of the books of faith of the accused religion and political competition. The question of discussing the place of Islam in the US is far-fetched because as they found out, religious existence has been harmonious mainly between the different denominations of Christianity (Putnam & Campbell 37). The peaceful coexistence has been there for very long and now it is a traditional feature. At one time, the Protestants considered Roman Catholics more of charitable organizations than denominations of faith. The two professors have offered the explanations on how Protestants came to embrace Catholics as people whom practice religion in their book, the American Grace.
It is interesting to learn that they discovered that the rivalry that existed sometimes back was a recipe for the amity and tolerance that religion in America is enjoying today. Suspicion, fear and hostility that were there during the short of antagonism are no longer there. This message is conveyed in the chapter that covers Religion and Good Neighbourliness. This chapter represents the information they got in their study that says that Americans make good neighbours to anyone in their neighbourhood. The amicable relationship between people of different faiths and religion is clear when they confident report that Americans are generous with their property, money, time, and political reforms. The author point out that Americans are generous with anything that can be measured by using any yardstick with the exception of opposing views to what they hold.
Putnam and Campbell carried out two large investigations where in the first survey they used three thousand one hundred and eight participants while one thousand one hundred and nine partakers were included in the second study. There research was undertaken between two thousand and six and two thousand and seven. The authors spread their survey over two years to study how standards change from one year to another. This should cover church attendance and how people join new faiths (Putnam & Campbell 59).
The two scholars argue that the sample was to a representative of the American population and the second sample was meant to authenticate the first one survey. In an effort to confirm the research, the authors chose the participants in a random way. In the process of collecting their data, information from Shaylyn Romney’s book, congregational vignettes was adopted. The quotations serve to give an insight into the kind life exists among cross-sections of congregations in the US. Romney’s book illustrates the picture of the life of subscribers of various religious institutions in a documentary format.
The two scholars to an earthquake and two aftershocks have described the relationship between religion in America and politics. They discovered during their studies that as opposed to several years ago, religion is now involved in partisan politics. The causes of this situation is traced back to the twentieth century after media publications including the Time magazine ran headlines declaring that God was dead. The other reason is connected to the new generation who disobey their parents’ advice to become religious (Putnam & Campbell 83). Campbell and Putnam refer to this as the Moral Majority. Politically, the book says that its statistics show that religious people tend to take a conservative position when commenting on politically hot issues. On the other hand, the non-religious people could be religiously liberal. The writers explain that the disparities between these two extremes have given rise to what they refer to as ‘religious nones’. This group makes up seventeen percent of the entire population of America. Members of this group are not automatically atheists but just they do not show any form of religion. They however, believe in God.
The two authors seem to agree that the diversity in religious beliefs has fully resulted in religious tolerance as most people consider. Christians are not tied to the doctrines of their denominations. The two academicians feel that the New Testament has had a role to play in this. The Bible tells the followers of Jesus that He is the only way through which people will get to heaven. Presently, the authors assert that the followers of Jesus belief that even those who do not subscribe to Christianity will enter the Kingdom of God.
Analysis of the book shows how the Putnam and Campbell have captured then fluidity of religious principles and practices to respond to the political and social concepts (Putnam & Campbell 91). This includes exploring how religion influences the daily lives of Christians. They also give information that becomes a subject of analysis by other scholars of sociology. By so doing they have set a new angle of analysis on the modern concepts of sociology of religion. This is because their analysis does not really give a lot of coverage on Islam. Subjects of discussion from information given in this book include exploring why the religious leaders do not dwell much into politics and reasons behind American changing faiths very much including the president.
Putnam, Robert D, and David, Campbell. American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2010. Print.