“American Grace How Religion Divides and Unites Us” by Putnam Essay- by EduBirdie

Thesis statement: Religion in America is a subject that remained unengaged until the publication of American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us. Following its publication, Americans are now more informed of the religious status, belief systems and the diversity of religion in United States. By exploring facts sourced from research studies, the authors of this book revolutionize peoples’ way of thinking by bringing them to the truth which remained untold.

Essay on “American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us” by Putnam

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Who are the authors?

What are the author’s findings about American religion?

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Statistical analysis

How did the authors reach their conclusions?

What is the significance of this sociological approach to American religion?

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American grace is a book that clearly describes how religion unites, and divides the people of United States. The book is written by renowned authors who have been credited for their exemplary performance in writing. Robert Putnam and David Campbell are the authors behind the making of this book that has opened the world to the effects of religion in United States.

Robert Putnam was a professor at Harvard school of public policy, and also a sociologist who has some light on the American community (Putnam 23). David Campbell was a professor of political science at Notre dame. These renowned professors and sociologists have been credited due to their good work in analyzing America’s religious history. The two scholars have respect from all over the world due to their relentless effort in trying to discuss how religion has been of significant in United States.

Researches indicate that the work done by the two professors has been of significance to upcoming scholars. They tried to comprehend the relationship between religion and politics. The outcome of the research was that religion played a fundamental role in the world of politics. They also indicated that politics and religion are intertwined, and they always have to do with one another. They found that religion played a significant role in bringing people together, thus a proper ground for politicians to express their interests (Putnam 134).


The two professors lay most of their emphasis on two large surveys where 3,108 and 1,909 participants were involved in the first and the second survey respectively. The samples were randomly drawn from American citizens, and the two authors used them to analyze the effects of religion in United States.

The authors’ finding on American religion is that politics and religion are intertwined, and they require one another to effectively operate. Additionally, America is religiously diversified, and is tolerant to all beliefs and customs of all religious groups. This clearly demonstrates one of the main American goals that is to illuminate the source of interfaith tolerance.


It has been established that everyone in America is entitled to equal rights irrespective of their religious diversity. This has enabled U.S to overcome one of the extreme hindrances to development that is usually caused by religious wars. It is estimated that most countries that are involved in religious wars tend to drag behind in all aspects of life either economically, or socially.

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Sociology ?

The two sociology scientists clearly depict that the peaceful religious existence is as a result of harmony that exist among Christian denominations.

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The two authors however do not speak directly about the Islam religion (Lears 101). They describe that there was a time in the nineteenth century when the Protestants viewed the Roman Catholics as no more than a charitable Pentecostal preacher in Florida. It is said that Massachusetts convent was destroyed by anti-Catholic rioters on the basis that the Catholics wanted to get rid of public bible schools.

This led to the destruction of two churches, and two dozen deaths. However, later on the two groups have been seen promoting a strong relationship. The greatest question asked by the two scholars is how this was possible despite the differences that existed earlier. In their writing, Putnam and Campbell provide answers that are mind-blowing; the statistical analysis is an eye-opener to the reality of religion in America as it reveals information that has been ignored in ages.

In trying to reach to the conclusion of the research, Putnam and Campbell included three chapters of congregational vignettes written by Shaylyn Romney Garret that provided a textual style of pictures of the American religious institutions. Though the chapters do not give a conclusive idea of what life is inside a cross section of United States congregations, they still provided a valuable insight.

The authors argue whether religion has become associated with partisan politics in America. The first argument was based on the cultural liberalization, and the second argument is based on the aftershock that came in the 90’s. The second argument was based on the moral majority that did not share the conservative views from their parents. It is noted that these children disaffiliated themselves from religion.

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The authors used apt metaphors to advance, and clearly understand and explain their discoveries. However in trying to answer which religion is most preferred, the authors do not give a descriptive answer but they concluded that religion plays a significant role in managing United States politics, and other sectors (Lears 178).

Before this book, religion in America remained unrevealed as most people knew very little of the diversity of religion in United States. One of the significance of the sociological approach to the American religion is that it acts as a distinctive vitalizing form of social capital.


It has been estimated that people with a common religious background can arrange themselves, and come up with strong social groups that can benefit one another (Schwain 54). This is as a result that it is only religion that assembles people together without them being summoned. This is because people will go to places of worship without them being asked to do so. This has also attracted some political interests where politicians take advantage of this to express their political interests to Americans.

Another significant approach is that religion unifies Americans. It has been noted that people only meet away from their busy schedules due to religion. It is within the religious circles that people help one another when one is in trouble. People offer help to the less fortunate in society as a representation of their religion. In this manner, most people are able to express their love to one another through fellowship.

It is in these religious gatherings that most groups are formed boosting the socio economic sectors. Researches indicate that people with a common religion background are known to agree easily, and can reach to an amicable solution very fast. At work, people with a common religion background have been known to have an exemplary performance as compared to people with different backgrounds (Schwain 167).

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Religious people are known to express their voice to the government or other organizations on issues that affect humanity. It is, therefore, evident that religion has played a significant role in America’s development either economically, socially or culturally. This is the reason as to why Americans embrace religion because they know it unifies them, and if they do not embrace it, they will be divided.

Works Cited

Lears, Jackson T. No Place of Grace: Antimodernism and the Transformation of American Culture, 1880-1920 . Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994. Print.

Putnam, Robert D. American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us . Simon & Schuster, 2012. Print.

Schwain, Kristin. Signs of Grace: Religion and American Art in the Gilded Age . Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2008. Print.

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