The American Interest

Books, Film, and History

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Progressives at prayer The Rise of Secular Religion

Today’s secular liberals are the direct descendants of the past century’s Puritans and Protestants, deeply concerned with matters of sin and salvation in the church of politics.

Published on March 17, 2014
An Anxious Age: The Post-Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of America by Joseph Bottum Image Books,  2014, 320 pp., $25
Today’s American liberalism, it is often remarked, amounts to a secular religion: it has its own sacred texts and taboos, Crusades and Inquisitions. The political correctness that undergirds it, meanwhile, can be traced back to the past century’s liberal Protestantism. Conservatives, of course, routinely scoff that liberals’ ersatz religion is inferior to the genuine article. Joseph Bottum, by contrast, examines post-Protestant secular religion with empathy, and contends that it gained force and staying power by recasting the old Mainline Protestantism in the...