DEMOCRACY AND THE CHURCHES by James Hastings Nichols


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The study was undertaken by a well known Protestant church historian at the request of the Committee on Religious Tolerance, composed of Protestant churchmen, with the purpose of ascertaining as a matter of historical record which of the churches had effectively fostered liberty, democracy and brotherhood and which had been antagonistic. The author deals with the 19th Century and the first half of the 20th century and covers the relationship of Catholicism and the various types of Protestantism to the several forms of democracy that have emerged in European and American life. The author frankly admits that he writes as a liberal Protestant Christian and cannot be neutral though he can aim to be objective. That he will be charged with bias goes without saying when one realizes that his major thesis is that Puritan Protestantism has provided a fertile soil for the nurture of liberal democracy, and that Roman Catholicism, despite certain liberal phases, has, on the whole, been an apologist for autocratic government. Professor Nichols is no agitator, but a thoroughly grounded historian. Nevertheless, if this book receives the attention it deserves it may be the subject of heated controversy. Certainly sharp Catholic criticism and ardent Protestant support may be expected, although Anglicans and Lutherans may not be pleased with its findings. The book is newsworthy and controversial; sure to be tied into the Blanshard issue.

Publisher: Westminster Press