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Bad Religion

Bad Religion

How We Became a Nation of Heretics

AS THE YOUNGEST-EVER OP-ED COLUMNIST FOR The New York Times, Ross Douthat has emerged as one of the most provocative and influential voices of his generation. In Bad Religion he offers a masterful and forceful account of how American Christianity has lost its way—and why it threatens to take American society with it.

In a world populated by “pray and grow rich” gospels and Christian cults of self-esteem, Ross Douthat argues that America’s problem isn’t too much religion; nor is it intolerant secularism. Rather, it’s bad religion. Conservative and liberal, political and pop cultural, traditionally religious and fashionably “spiritual”—Christianity’s place in American life has increasingly been taken over, not by atheism, but by heresy: debased versions of Christian faith that stroke our egos, indulge our follies, and encourage our worst impulses.

In a brilliant and provocative story that moves from the 1950s to the age of Obama, Douthat explores how bad religion has crippled the country’s ability to confront our most pressing challenges and accelerated American decline.
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  • Free Press | 
  • 352 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781439178331 | 
  • April 2013
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Read an Excerpt

ONE

THE LOST WORLD

Somewhere in the dark years between Adolf Hitler’s invasion of Poland and the turn of the Second World War’s tide, Wystan Hugh Auden returned to his childhood faith. The poet was living in New York, having emigrated from England shortly before the outbreak of the war, and he began attending services at St. Mark’s in the Bouwerie, an Episcopal parish and New York’s second oldest church. He officially entered Anglican Communion in October 1940, but he would later describe that precise date as less important than the general drift in his thinking about matters of religion, which had... see more

About the Author

Ross Douthat
Josh Haner/New York Times.

Ross Douthat

Ross Douthat is a columnist for The New York Times op-ed page. He is the author of Privilege and Grand New Party. Before joining the Times he was a senior editor for The Atlantic. He is the film critic for National Review, and he has appeared regularly on television, including Charlie Rose, PBS Newshour, Real Time, and The Colbert Report.

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