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Religion & the Founding: Linda Colley's "Britons"

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Today, I begin a week-long look at some of the key historiography of the relationship of religion to the American founding. Other writers would point to different works, I am sure, but these are the books that have convinced me that any effort to “baptize” the American founding is deeply problematic, at least for a Catholic. As well, I hope these essays will point to the long history of some of today’s most contentious issues regarding the relationship of religion to politics. In any event, the books surveyed are all very good reads.

Jobs Report Better Than Hoped

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The Department of Labor's June numbers are out and they were stronger than expected: The DOL reported that 288,000 jobs were added last month. Perhaps more significantly, they revised the previous two months' reports upward: They May number went from 217,000 to 224,000 and the April number from an already robust 282,000 to 304,000. This is all good news and was desperately needed after the lousy first quarter GDP reports. 

The Religious Leaders Letter to Obama

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The text of the letter sent by a group of religious leaders to President Obama, requesting robust religious exemptions to any forthcoming LGBT non-discrimination rule is available here. I am not sure it was very politic to remind President Obama that they are only requesting that religious groups not be penalized for hold a position he articulated quite emphatically just a couple of years ago. But, it is the truth. 

Happy July 4th: But Was the American Founding a Religious Event?

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There are many reasons to question the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ “Fortnight for Freedom,” not least its failure to capture the imagination of Catholics, which may have something to do with its unfortunate name. But, surely, the greatest problem is that it feeds a trend in Americans’ understanding of our nations’ founding, an effort to baptize the founding. In short, it dabbles in the tropes, and more than the tropes, of Americanism.

The Hinge of Fate

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History is the interplay of large, tectonic forces – demographic, social, cultural, economic, political – with discrete human actors. As an academic discipline, history has come to better appreciate those tectonic forces, and how they shape events and the “great man” approach to history has faded from the landscape. This change is welcome to be sure not least because it is true.

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In This Issue

July 18-31, 2014

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