Logo Thing main logo
October 30, 2012

American Politics & Religion: Untangling the Web We Weave

Kennedy School Professor of Public Policy Robert D. Putnam

At a time when America has never been more politically polarized, The Cambridge Roundtable on Science, Art & Religion addresses the science of happiness and good citizenship: Are we better off Praying Together or Bowling Alone? 

The award-winning author of the best-selling Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community (2000), Professor Putnam states that “For happiness as for neighborliness, praying together seems to be better than either bowling together or praying alone.”


Did you choose your religion? Or your non-religious secularism? One-third of all Americans made a deliberate change rather than inherit their parents’ experience. That one-third expands to one-half when counting those who thoughtfully chose to strengthen their roots.  



If religious Americans are better neighbors and even happier than secular Americans - giving away more of their time and treasure, even for non-religious secular causes - then why? Professor Putnam’s American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us (Simon and Schuster), the 2011 Wilson Award winner from the American Political Science Association, discusses what it is about a satisfying American religious experience that reveals a real solution to American political polarization, a solution that even the most rigorously non-religious secularist might enjoy.