American democracy is in crisis: rickety democratic structures built haphazardly over two centuries are swaying in the face of authoritarian, racist, and anti-pluralistic threats. One need look no further than January 6, 2021 and the near-upheaval of the 2020 presidential election to see the profound dilemma we face. And threaded through America’s present-day crisis is a layer of “Christian nationalism” that some have chosen to treat as a sui generis phenomenon.
The 2023 ICJS Faculty Seminar brought together scholars and practitioners to look outside the U.S. context—or at least the usual and established locations of “best practice” in the U.S.—to consider possible new approaches, including through interracial and interreligious coalitions, to address religious nationalism and to strengthen democratic institutions and systems. Instead of perpetuating claims of American exceptionalism, this seminar (and eventual book) looked squarely at the American crisis through other lenses and other models, inviting scholars and activists working together on the front line of democratic crises globally to offer important insights.
The 2023 ICJS Faculty Seminar was co-directed by Susan Hayward, associate director for Religious Literacy and the Professions Initiative at Harvard Divinity School, and Matthew D. Taylor, Protestant Scholar at ICJS.