My most recent book – Hard Times: Leadership in America – was published in October by Stanford University Press. The book explores the impact of context on leadership and followership
Beginning February 3, I started posting in this space, in the order in which they appear, excerpts.
Excerpt from Chapter 3 – Religion
Religion has by and large served America’s leadership class well. “Members have, in general, practiced it privately; simultaneously they have, in general, used it to public advantage. America’s leaders have used religion to engage their followers and to sell them (us) on the idea, first, that the United States of America is the most blessed of all nations, and second that God has always been and remains to this day on America’s side. American leaders have, in short, used American religion to bind us – to the nation, and to them, and to each other….
But, again, American religion is not now what once it was. It is not only more diverse, it has, of itself, been weakened. Therefore, whatever resources religion provided in the past, provided to leaders in particular, in the present have been somewhat depleted. To be sure, we remain significantly more religious than our most obvious counterparts, people in places with similar western values and at similar levels of economic development. For example, while only 58 percent of Americans still say that religion is very important in their lives, in Germany that number is much smaller, only 21 percent, in Britain it is only 17 percent, and in France merely 13 percent. Still, however the numbers read now, they are changing fast. Polling results make clear that so far as religion is concerned, Americans are becoming more like Europeans.”