American democracy is inextricably bound up and in tension with American religious traditions. Over the latter half of the 20th century this relationship has manifested itself primarily as the antagonism between a powerful liberal secularism and a rising new religious traditionalism. Jeffrey Stout's New book, Democracy and Tradition, places itself squarely in the center of this debate as it examines the serious challenges facing democracy and religion in America, including the new religious traditionalism. Professor Stout's account of the history and formation of American democratic culture reveals a rich tradition shaped not only by constitutional and political debates, but by literary, religious, and philosophical debates as well. These various debates have enlarged the concept of public reason in America to include all citizens who converse with one another in their capacity as citizens. Furthermore, as he works through this debate, Stout presents a vision of the resources needed to strengthen the democratic cultural tradition in America.
Convinced of the importance of this work, the sponsors and organizers of Democracy and Tradition: A Symposium at The University of Tennessee brought together with Professor Stout a number of scholars for a three-day symposium to critically examine Democracy and Tradition. Symposium events included panel discussions and plenary lectures with questions and answers.