The faith-based initiative asks religious organizations to carry a heavy load. Providing a social safety net is the relatively easy part. Religious groups are also being asked—and are asking themselves—to build the social bridges that strengthen America’s civil society.
An engineering professor from Germany who was attending my course on the Genesis debates was flabbergasted to learn that in the U.S. a sizable number of people think that modern science is optional. “In my country,” he explained, “whether it’s a state school, a Lutheran school, or a Catholic school, we all teach the same science.”
On a rainy Georgia night near the end of the Civil War, a soldier named Arly, who is more interested in survival than piety, addresses God about his young companion Will, who “thinks an army at war is a reasonable thing. . . . He thinks we live in a sane life and time, which you know as well as I is not what you designed for us sinners.”
Anyone browsing through a bookstore will notice the popular new biographies of John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. No doubt many Americans are devouring these books in search of insights that the founding generation can provide into today’s political controversies and questions about national identity.