Seeking Unity Not Divisiveness

Alexis de Tocqueville travelled from France to the United States in the 1830s to find an answer to what to him and his European contemporaries was a perplexing question–How could the US operate with separation of church and state?

When I came to enquire into the prevailing spirit of the clergy, I found that most of its members seemed to retire of their own accord from the exercise of power and they made it the pride of their profession to abstain from politics. (When he asked them why, they answered) Because politics is intrinsically divisive. We want to be a unifying rather than a divisive force.

Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Here were some key goals they held:

  • strengthen families
  • building communities
  • starting charities
  • inspiring people to a sense of common good
  • educating them in habits of the heart
  • bequeathing them the art of association

Concluding, de Tocqueville wrote, “Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.”

How do observers around the world describe American Christians in 2021, some 190 years later?

More to the point, looking into the metaphorical mirror, how would each of us describe ourselves? Are we building, strengthening, inspiring, educating? Or, are we promoting divisiveness?

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