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Religion et culture aux Etats-Unis

190 pages
Ce volume rassemble un certain nombre de communications qui portent sur le facteur religieux dans la société américaine. Surgira de cette revue l'esquisse de manifestations multiples qui, par delà les différences temporelles, géographiques, ou humaines, retracent les péripéties d'une nation en quête de son âme et d'un Dieu à la fois dans et hors de son histoire.
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J?l!J{:J\[.9LLf£S 1J1.1 9vf0J{'IYE Revue semestrielle

.9l9£q LOP:J{OJ{~ bilingue

Publiée par l'Institut de Recherche du Monde Anglophone de "Université Aix-Marseille I et les Éditions L'Harmattan Directeur: Serge Ricard

.) .) .;.

Premier semestre

1999 - N° 9

RELIGION AUX

ET CUL TURE ÉTATS-UNIS

.:.

Université de Provence (Aix-Marseille i) 3. Place Victor-Hugo 13331 Marseille Cédex 3 Ëditlon-Dltfusion L' Harmattan 7. rue de l'Ëcole-Polytechnlque 75005 Paris

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de Provence

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~

Comité scientifique: WoUgang Binder (Erlangen), James Bolner (LSU),Hélène Christol (Aix), Ceri Crossley (Birmingharn), Annick Duperray (Aix), Max Duperray (Aix), Sylvia Hilton (Madrid), Christian Lerat (Bordeaux), Gilles Mathis (Aix), Serge Ricard (Paris), Daniela Rossini (Rome), Pierre Sahel (Aix), Sylvia Ullmo (Tours) + Abonnement:
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Tout ce qui concerne la rédaction doit être adressé à M. Serge RICARD, directeur des Annales, Sorbonne Nouvelle, Institut du Monde Anglophone, 5 rue de l'Écol~e-Médecine, 75006 Paris.

SOMMAIRE

page

-1\digion

et culture au;r.'États-'l.1nis
9

Avant-propos, par Hélène CHRISTOL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Fundamentalism Born and Reborn, by Jean-Pierre MARTIN. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Religion and Politics in Timothy Dwight's Greenfield Hill (1794), by Dietmar SCHLOSS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Introduction to the Life and Work of a Militant American Deist: Elihu Palmer (1764-1806), by Nathalie CARON. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Catholic Church, Creole Slaves and Gens de Couleur Libres in Louisiana, by Michel FABRE. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Embattled Ecumenicalism: The Christian Century and the Presidential Elections of the 193Os, by André BRIAND ........................... Objectors, Believers, and Justices, by Liliane KERJAN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . "Frosted eyes there were that lifted altars" : Modernism and the Postulate of Deity, by Heinz ICKST DT. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A Flannery O'Connor and the Beginnings of Religion, by Dieter MEINDL. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Toomer's God in Cane, by Hélène CHRISTOL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

11

17

35

47

57

77

91

103

113

-

!l-fors tfième

Résistance et conformité au modèle américain: les Cadiens de la Louisiane et le maintien d'une identité distincte, par Sara LE MENESTREL. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 125

6

SOMMAIRE

Affaire Sokal: Swift Sociologue. mystification et recherche, par Pierre GUERLAIN

Les Cultural Studies entre jargon, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
141

"Happy Talk" and "Videovoyeurism" : The Electronic Media and the Informational Fallacy, by Serge RICARD. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

161 175

.

9\{gte sur

{es

auteurs

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

-:..:-.:.

~[igion et cufture . au~ t£tats-l1nLS
/

Avant-Propos

Le sixième colloque franco-allemand qui, tous les deux ans, rassemble depuis plus de dix ans des enseignants d'universités françaises et allemandes, s'est réuni à l'Université de Provence en octobre 1997. Né du désir de confronter divers points de vue sur des questions liées à l'évolution des États-Unis, le groupe qui s'est retrouvé à Erlangen, Berlin, Rennes et Aix, s'est déjà penché sur des thèmes variés, au carrefour des cultures, des histoires et des littératures américaines, tels que la Frontière de 1803 à 1860, l'expansionnisme américain au tournant du siècle, les cultures ethniques ou l'Amérique urbaine. Ce volume rassemble un certain nombre de communications qui portent sur le facteur religieux dans la culture américaine. Vaste sujet, car comme l'a remarqué l'un des participants au colloque, le professeur Martin, lui-même spécialiste des religions américaines, "la Babel américaine, en matière religieuse, décourage toute définition simple". Aucune définition simple ne sera donc donnée, surgira plutôt de ces pages l'esquisse de manifestations multiples qui, par delà les différences temporelles, géographiques ou humaines, retracent les péripéties d'une nation en quête de son âme et d'un Dieu à la fois dans et hors de son Histoire. La polyvalence y est de rigueur, polyvalence des sujets, des approches et des thèmes, qui est celle adoptée par ce groupe franco-allemand depuis ses origines et qui permet d'aborder les questions posées avec des éclairages complexes et diversifiés. Du fondamentalisme aux premières sociétés déistes, de Palmer à Flannery O'Connor, des créoles catholiques de la Louisiane aux prophètes noirs de Toomer, de la Cour Suprême aux tribunes des journaux religieux, le livre reste ouvert. Le colloque d'Aix a pu être organisé grâce à des parrainages institutionnels et amicaux: celui du Groupe Aixois de Recherche en Études Américaines, le GRENA, celui aussi du Conseil Scientifique de l'Université de Provence. Qu'ils soient remerciés de leur aide qui a permis la tenue de cette rencontre conviviale et animée, que nous avons quittée, sinon sanctifiés, du moins un peu plus éclairés. Hélène CHRISTOL
Université de Pr(J1Jenœ

Responsable du dossier .:..:..:.
AMA 9 _1er semestre 1999

FUNDAMENTALISM

BORN

AND

REBORN Jean-Pierre MARTIN Universitéde Provence
(Aix-Marseille I)

L'article se propose de présenter rapidement le fondamentalisme à travers l 'histoire des États-Unis et de fournir ainsi un guide succinct mais pédagogique des sources et évolutions de ce courant religieux.

We only mean to propose a very broad overview of one religious variety in colonial America then United States, and shall ignore many significant details - thus, hopefully providing a portable and pedagogical version of Fundamentalism.

Backgrounds (From

colonial

times

to the

Civil

War)

One too obvious source of Fundamentalism is colonial Puritanism, the spring of all sins, virtues, etc. Alas, once more wrong is the cliché. Puritans are strict predestinarians (and mostly prelapsarians), while Fundamentalism evinces a growing trend for universalism, theoretical and practical, even though denying any evolution; the very elaborate Puritan hermeneutics would deem fundamentalist literalism at once preposterous and blasphemous; Puritans (in New England, that is) do invent and practice a technical separation of Church and State, abhorrent to Fundamentalists; Puritans do acknowledge the existence, if not the necessity, of adiaphora which professional godlies would consider as boundaries to God's direct rule. If necessary to discover some Puritan ancestry to Fundamentalism, we suggest it might be provided by that matron-saint of American feminists, Anne Hutchinson and her Antinomian crowd in Aquidneck; more generally, Fundamentalism being a reaction against a lay - or to use more modern terms - a secular environment, it could hardly thrive in New England provinces. The same reasons would explain the non-birth of Fundamentalism in the 18th century. The only potential candidates, Le the evangelists of the Great Awakening are militant universalists, hardly care for dogmatic
AMA 9 _1er
semestre 1999

12

JEAN-PIERRE

MARTIN

definitions, and accept various, if not conflicting, tenets: Whitefield "knew little theology and cared for less". As expected, the first outgrowths of Fundamentalism coincide with the advent of the lay state, Le the ratification of the First Amendment; Congress was, to say the least, reluctant, refused a public [official] definition of the liberty of conscience, one of the many suggestions of Jefferson; and also declined New Hampshire Episcopalian Livermore's proposal of a text extending to the states the prohibition to legislate in religious matters. It should be reminded the Supreme Court did not make the Amendments mandatory onto the States unti11925. Thus, to quote Fisher Ames, the door is not opened "for Jews, Turks, and infidels" (Stokes and Pfeffer, 1950, I, 515). Thus can the States remain religious strongholds; meanwhile, the federal neutrality is a Christian neutrality (as evidenced by the sessionopening prayers in Congress and the Supreme Court, the use of the Bible for presidential inaugurations, etc.) : as R. Niebuhr writes, "this neutrality has not been honestly neutral" (Niebuhr, 1953, 97). It also means that religious demagogues, activists, or just bigots, did pressure and petition for federal enforcement of the Sabbath, federal prohibition of mail transportation on Sundays, etc., such various attempts culminating in the socalled Christian Amendment of 1863, signed by representatives of eleven denominations, one Supreme Court justice, a host of college professors, etc. : ''We, the people of the United States, acknowledging Almighty God as the source of all authority and power in civil government, the Lord Jesus as the Ruler among the nations, and His Will, revealed in the Holy Scriptures as of supreme authority, in order to constitute a Christian government, form a more perfect union", etc. To sum it up, the pseudo-lay definition of the various States, national or local, is a constant encouragement to those who want more and better, to wit the Fundamentalists. Doctrinal Fundamentalism (1870 to 1925?)

The terminology is somewhat paradoxical, since Fundamentalists do not discuss fundamentals and banish any scientific approach to them. Logics would require to call Fundamentalists seekers and questioners, not those who detain the essentials of a given religion. We shall follow the common use. Three major enemies appear in the United States circa 1860: Darwinism, or more generally evolutionism, threatens at once the biblical chronology (no creation on October 23, 4004 BC?) and thus the very sequence and organisation of universal history, biblical fixism of species, the separate, and central, status of Man, since he is now a product of evolution, no longer a special creation (Gen. 1/26). In so many words, "Darwinism is a theism" .

FUNDAMENTALISM

BORN AND REBORN

13

Higher criticism had a long tradition in Europe, since Spinoza, Simon (an oratorian priest, excommunicated), Strauss (deprived of his chair in Tübingen), Renan (expelled from the Collège de France), etc.; the American public had once been aware of this historical and critical approach of the Scriptures, thanks to Thomas Paine, Jefferson, and the so-called deist movement, soon annihilated by the clerical coalition. Modern criticism was reintroduced by young American intellectuals sojourning in German universities, importing the German academic model, its methods and at times its tenets into the United States: it questioned, from the very text of the Scriptures such central dogmas of traditional denominations as Mary's virginity, Jesus' deity or even historical existence, the coherence and plausibility of God's supposed Revelation. the "second industrial revolution", in full swing in the United States after the Civil War, did secrete counter-movements, mostly socialistic, and demanding, to correct the scandals of a self-styled Christian society, structural changes. While churches first opposed unanimously "the satanic inventions of false science", most large denominations gradually worked out and included in their programs, credos, symbols, compromises which came to define "modernism". For one, religion and rational enquiry were found of mutual necessity: evolution, far from negating God's will, was the intelligible form of His continuous power; biblical criticism purified the creed through the detection of myths, ceremonial aspects, etc., and thus made it more accessible, especially to benighted populations saved by imperialism. Modernists also denounced the merchants in the Temple, and their clerical accomplices, such as the famous and notorious Beecher; strong socialminded movements appeared: in the main denominations, under the pressure of such crusaders as Walter Rauschenbush, and had a "Social Creed of the Churches" adopted in 1908 by the Federal Council of Churches. The forcible reaction against Modernism first centered around Charles Hodge, the Princeton luminary of protestant divinity and the author (1874) of a remarkable Systematic Theology, the two Blanchards (Wheaton College, Illinois), and various evangelists (Moody Bible Institute, 1889). Yearly conventions, especially under Presbyterian influence, culminated in the adoption (Niagara Bible Conference, 1895) of the Five Points or Five Fundaments. No Church could be Christian, it was asserted, unless it ratified the following: 1. "Inerrancy" of the Scripture:
Bible absolutely."

-

as W.J. Bryan was to put it, ''1 accept the
not only the "obvious" contents, but the

meaning

words themselves ("full revelation"). The reference text is the King James version, its understanding precluding any symbolical, socio-historical, philological, etc., revisionism.

14

JEAN-PIERRE

MARTIN

2. "Virgin birth" of Jesus, implying his divine nature, since the taint of the original sin is transmitted through the usual channels... 3. "Substitutive atonement" : only Jesus' sacrifice can expiate the sins, inherited or specific, of those "whom the Father purposes to save" (predestination) : works do not save, though the elect are inclined to good works. 4. "Christ's resurrection", defined as a miracle of the trinitarian God, and not, as the Unitarians would have it, an image of a salvation offered to all men. 5. "Imminent bodily return to earth" of Jesus, implying the immediate necessity of a universal and efficient predication. Now, this eschatological dimension of Fundamentalism raises the formidable question of the meaning of Revelation 19 and 20. To oversimplify: will Christ return to reign for one thousand years before the ultimate destruction of Satan (premillenarianism) ? or will the Savior come back after the battle has been won by mankind, an optimistic view indeed (postmillenarianism). No technical discussion being offered here, we shall only point that under various forms Fundamentalism is by far premillenarian. Now, this doctrinary Fundamentalism was also most militant, thanks to individual ministers in all denominations, to evangelical pastors such as Moody, and backed by powerful conservative interests. One example of such financial Cooperation is the diffusion (1909-1917; new editions in 1958, 1986, etc.) of The Fundamentals, three million copies being sent to institutions, divinity students, ministers, etc.; the work itself is an uneven hash-up of anti-modernistic literature from different countries. Still, we must stress that the first explicitly fundamentalist tradition is intellectual, and honestly fighting for legitimate, if improbable, versions of Christianity. The next avatar will somehow offer a negative of the first. Populist Fundamentalism (1925-?)

The switch from intellectual fundamentalism could, of course, be explained by the disappearance of the towering academics of the previous period. Brilliant - if odd at times - individuals, such as Bryan and Machen now led the movement. Not only, though, did they fail to capture any major denominations, but the excesses of "traditional religion" stimulated an energetic answer, first among Presbyterians (Auburn Affirmation, 1925). "Olden time believers" were also compromised by dubious connections : the Ku-Klux-Klan boasted the membership of 20,000 ministersbut surely enjoyed constant help and support from clerics all over the country; the unfailing glorification of the noble attempt, viz Prohibition, did not make the Five Points more popular, nor booze less; and while ridicule seldom kills, the misplaced zeal of some State legislatures, the adoption of anti-evolutionist legal measures and subsequent trials made

FUNDAMENTALISM

BORN AND REBORN

15

the new bigots the laughing-stock of the Twenties. Hence the new strategy of the true faithful, from clerical and academic efforts to the assured rewards of evangelicalism. To cut short many picturesque episodes one might concentrate on one glaring example, that of the South - even though the Sahara of the Bozarts, to use Mencken's phrase, had no monopoly of Fundamentalism, nor of the KKK. But the land was most propitious, as 90 % of the white population, in rural churches (82 % of congregations), under the authority of some clerus minor, if not of itinerant or lay preachers, concentrated in two large denominations, purely Southern at that since the 1850s. Ethnic homogeneity encouraged what W.J. Cash termed the worship of "a tribal God", as well as the imposition of more exclusive tenets, what you might call systematic outbidding in dogmatic matters ("holier than..."). Jeffersonian decentralization encouraged localism, no lay culture was allowed to fight back clerical appetites outside underdeveloped State universities, the Southern intelligentsia confining itself to a Southern stand, to which
should be added the Holy Alliance of God

-

fearing

ministers

and

of

church-building mill owners: "We have a pure religion [and] a perfect labor system" (quoted in Genovese, 1965, 200). As asserted by The Christian Advocate, "secular reforms have no place in the Kingdom of Heaven" (quoted in Bone, ''Religion and Class Hegemony", in Journal of Southern History, Aug. 1971). One final citation, from a Baptist minister:
The hope of the world is America, the hope of America is evangelical religion, of the most orthodox type, the hope of the American church is the Southern Evangelical Churches. (Tindall, 1976,45).

It appears that this most vocal and visible orthodoxy gathers, all sections, denominations, and "independent" churches included, approximately 500,000 members (source: U.S. Handbook of Denominations, 1994 edition). We have computed the figure by tracing the self-proclaimed "fundamentalist" groups; how many, yet, in other churches and denominations? The tendency, or temptation remains strong in major denominations, in spite of the post-Moral Majority backlash. One minor example: the publication of Dead Sea manuscripts is to this day, blocked by members of the Harvard Divinity School... We submit, in the guise of conclusion, the following points: in most - as evidenced by the noisy break between Billy Graham and such orthodox leaders as Bishop Mc Intyre. Fundamentalists refuse evangelical immediacy : you cannot just jump on the wagon and be saved... In the same way, they will not substitute the individual's will to be saved for God's decree,
forms of Fundamentalism, the two trends should not be confused

1. Even though a strong evangelical component

is perceptible

16

JEAN-PIERRE

MARTIN

nor concede the convert may reach actual perfection. In a word, even through its populist phase, traditionalists may borrow the time-tried techniques of evangelicalism, but retain a strong doctrinal basis as against pietist tendencies. 2. Still, alike evangelicalism, fundamentalism in its latest forms belongs to the populist constellation. It professes anti-intellectualism, denounces the false élites that have usurped the powers assigned by law and usage to the uncorrupted common man, advocates the philosophy of good sense inherited from the Scottish School - or, to put it brutally, appeals permanently to mass prejudices. The doctrine of the imminent return is a good case in point, as announcing true justice and satisfying Thomas-like appetites for concrete mysteries. In spite of flood-cursing against modernism, secularism and similar betrayals, Fundamentalists do practice technospirituality, TV conversions, etc., and unashamedly sponge sociological values: Fundamentalism is very much of this world, and appears as a variety of cultural religion, Le gives a spiritual and dogmatic imprint to common secular values. Hence the unflinching support of economic liberalism, the naive messianic utterances of a Falwell, not to mention obvious political choices. 3. Basically, the movement is Manichean, as also evidenced in nonChristian versions of Fundamentalism: a modern form of Inquisition, a forceful ideology very much at work, needing enemies to damn, and books to burn.
-:.
Works

Cited

Stokes and Pfeffer. Church and State. 3 vols. New York, 1950. Niebuhr R. Christian Realism and Political Problems. New York, 1953. Tindall G.B. The Ethnic Southerner. Baton Rouge, 1976. Mead P.S. (revised by Hill 5.5). Handbook of Denominations in the United States. Nashville, 1997. Bureau of Census. Yearly Statistical Abstracts and various publications.

.:.->-:.

RELIGION AND POLITICS GREENFIELD HILL (1794)

IN

TIMOTHY Dietmar

DWIGHT'S

SCHLOSS

Université de Heidelberg

Depuis la fin des années 1790, où Timothy Dwight s'engagea dans une campagne de propagande contre les Jeffersoniens, son nom et ses écrits ont été associés aux forces politiques et religieuses réactionnaires. Son poème Greenfield Hill, écrit à la fin des années 1780 mais publié seulement en 1794, ne correspond pas à cette réputation de conservatisme, car il évoque un esprit plus libéral et démocratique. Sa description précise d'une communauté américaine républicaine rappelle la société de petits propriétaires paysans chère à Jefferson. Cet article analyse les idéaux républicains de Dwight à la lumière des débats entre historiens sur les relations entre religion et politique pendant les périodes révolutionnaires et post-révolutionnaires. L'analyse montre que les idées quasi-démocratiques de Dwight viennent du calvinisme plutôt que de philosophies politiques. Les droits naturels ne sont pas considérés comme de simples droits séculiers mais comme des droits prescrits par Dieu. Cette conception théologique des droits de l 'homme est aussi à la base de la condamnation énergique de l'esclavage à laquelle se livre Dwight ainsi que de sa critique des atrocités commises contre les lndiens. Greenfield Hill conserve encore un peu de l'esprit des années 1770, où le clergé congrégationaliste soutenait activement la Révolution, parce qu'il croyait qu'elle était conforme au projet providentiel de Dieu.

Timothy Dwight was one of the "founding fathers" of the literary culture of the newly independent United States: in the early 1770s, when he was a tutor at Yale College, he - together with his colleague John Trumbullintroduced English literature into the academic curriculum. He was a founding member of the first important circle of poets in the United States - the Connecticut Wits - and wrote several lengthy patriotic poems. In 1783 he obtained a position as pastor in Greenfield Hill, Connecticut, where he also opened one of the first American co-educational schools. In the 1790s he became President of Yale College and achieved a somewhat dubitable national renown through his vigorous public support of the causes of both Federalism and Congregationalism. Timothy Dwight made important contributions to many fields -literaAMA 9 _1'" semestre 1999

18

DIETMAR

SCHLOSS

ture, politics, religion, education - and yet he is largely forgotten today. There are several reasons for this neglect. Critics are almost unanimous in their view that, while Dwight was very ambitious, his literary talents were modest. As Henry Adams wrote, "Dwight [was] a man of extraordinary qualities, but one on whom almost every other mental gift had been conferred in fuller measure than poetical genius."I Other critics have questioned his intellectual and conceptual skills. Leon Howard and Kenneth Silverman, two critics who have written extensively on Dwight, both complain that in his poetry he mixes concepts and metaphors from different intellectual systems and ideologies without being aware of their incompatibility.2 The main reason for the critic's lack of interest, however, is probably Dwight's alleged conservatism. In the late 1790s, when he was President of Yale and eager to establish himself as a moral spokesman of the nation, he engaged in a vituperative propaganda campaign against Jefferson's Republican supporters and, as a result, his name became permanently identified with the forces of political and religious reaction.3 In this paper, I will not come to the defense of Dwight the poet - in that role he is probably unredeemable, not only from our perspective, but also from that of his contemporaries - but of Dwight the thinker and ideologist. Before one condemns him as being intellectually muddled, one should consider that he wrote in a rather fluid historical situation. His problem was not only that he lacked a proper poetic language, but that the political and social entity he wanted to describe - the newly independent United States - had not yet taken a clearly defined shape. As recent historical research has suggested, the American Revolution was not fought on the basis of a single ideology; rather there was a whole array of different ideological perspectives involved, which the revolutionary leaders succeeded in bringing to a certain harmony, albeit only for a brief period.4 The most important of these ideologies were an old-style republicanism with roots deep in the classical and Renaissance worlds, Lockean liberalism, Scottish Enlightenment philosophy, and, of course, Calvinism. The
1. Henry Adams, History of the United States of America during the Administrations of Thomas Jefferson (New York: Library of America, 1986), p. 67. For an earlier assessment of Dwight's poetic talents, see John Neal, American Writers: A Series of Papers Contributed to Blackwood 's Magazine (1824-1825), ed. Fred Lewis Pattee (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1937), pp. 98-99. 2. Leon Howard, The Connecticut Wits (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1943), pp.225 and 238; Kenneth Silverman, Timothy Dwight (New York: Twaine, 1969), p. 73. 3. See Silverman, pp. 94-110; and Henry F. May, The Enlightenment in America (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1976), pp. 258-277. 4. For excellent overviews over the earlier stages of the debate, see Robert E. Shalhope, "Toward a Republican Synthesis: The Emergence of an Understanding of Republicanism in American Historiography," William and Mary Quarterly,29 (1972), pp. 49-80; and Robert E. Shalhope, "Republicanism and Early American Historiography," William and Mary Quarterly, 39 (1982), pp. 334-356.

RELIGION

AND POLITICS

IN TIMOTHY

DWIGI-IT'S GREENFIELD

HILL

19

intellectual and ideological confusion detected by critics in Dwight's poetry has something to do with the intellectual ferment of his times. He could not draw on a ready-made ideology, but had to fashion one from the several ideological systems he knew. In the following analysis of Dwight's poem Greenfield Hill, I will try to analyze how he combined elements of his Calvinist heritage with those of the republican and liberal ideologies in order to develop his own ideas regarding the new political and social order of the United States. The covenant theology shared concerns with traditional Republicanism; in certain ways it even went beyond it, propagating modern liberal ideas. Seen within the spectrum of the ideological positions available in the early republic, the Dwight of Greenfield Hill looks less conservative than his critics have assumed.s Before I enter into a discussion of Dwight's poem, I will briefly sketch the more recent debates among historians regarding religion and politics in late eighteenth-century America.
.:-

In the twentieth century historians have given different accounts of the relationship between religion and politics during the revolutionary and post-revolutionary periods. Until the 1960s, progressive historians such as Vernon Parrington and Carl Becker dominated historiography. They viewed the Revolution primarily as a secular event - as a product of Enlightenment rationalism and Lockean liberalism, its goal being to establish a democratic state on the basis of man's "natural rights.,,6 The increasing tendency towards a separation of church and state observable in the late-eighteenth century - starting with the Virginia Declaration of Rights (1776) and culminating in the First Amendment to the Constitution (1789) - seemed to support these historians' interpretation?
5. Critics generally highlight Dwight's conservatism by contrasting him to his fellow Wit Joel Barlow. See, for example, John Griffith, "The Columbiad and Greenfield Hill: History, Poetry, and Ideology in the Late Eighteenth Century," Early American Literature, X (1975-9), pp. 235-249 i see also William C. Dowling, Poetry and Ideology in Revolutionary Connecticut (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1990). 6. See Carl Becker, The Declaration of Independence (New York: Knopf, 1922) i Vernon Parrington, Main Currents in American Thought: An Interpretation of American Literature from the Beginnings to 1920 (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1958). 7. On the institutional developments, see William G. McLoughlin, ''The Role of Religion in the Revolution: Liberty of Conscience and Cultural Cohesion in the New Nation," Essays on the American Revolution, ed. Stephen G. Kurtz and James H. Hutson (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1973), pp. 197-255 i and Robert M. Calhoon, "The Impact of the Revolution on Church and State," The Blackwell Encyclopedia of the American Revolution, ed. Jack P. Greene and J.R. Pole (1991; Cambridge, Mass. : Blackwell, 1994), pp. 428-436.