Puritans And The American Ethos And Democratic Spirit

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Puritans founded America, and for roughly two centuries, defined American culture. Their zealousness has created cultural backlashes to many progressive movements, but also organized community picnics, sent aid to impoverished populations (albeit with perverse logic), and comforted millions of Americans, both now and in the past, facing an uncertain world. Tocqueville unequivocally professed the proverbial glue Puritanism has on the American ethos and democratic spirit: “Puritanism was not merely a religious doctrine, but it corresponded in many points with the most absolute democratic and republican theories.” But American religiosity is diminishing. Other forces like materialism, globalism, humanism, and science continue to push the world into a new frontier. Between 2007 and 2014, adults who are religiously affiliated dropped 6%; though, 77% percent of Americans are religiously affiliated and 58% find religion very important—and those who identify strongly with religion continue to have the same intensity in belief. With the election of Donald Trump, many see the dark side of this puritan spirit rising, the parts entangled with our country’s deepest, darkest roots: more racism, sexism, and jingoism. Undeniably, more of these insidious weeds have sprouted in our democratic field as of late, despite always being hidden a mere few feet below the surface. Reports continue to abound of individuals being harassed, lockers covered in phrases like “White America,” and Muslim

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