The October issue of Common-Place is up. This edition focuses on “Democracy in Early America and After.” Jonathan Sassi, the author of an excellent book on public Christianity in early national New England (released earlier this year in paperback by Oxford), has a nice piece on how we might learn something about religion and politics today from studying the life of early nineteenth-century Congregationalist minister Lyman Beecher.
Lyman Beecher’s efforts to scrutinize the morality of governmental policy and to mobilize voter support for his causes ultimately contributed to the robust, participatory democracy of antebellum America. He carried a Puritan tradition of prophetic preaching into the early republic and set ground rules for Christian involvement in politics that are still relevant. Contemporary American political culture, with its “values voters” and “faith forums,” is heir to his legacy.