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Best-Selling Author, Harvard Scholar to Talk About Americans and Religion

Published on September 14, 2011

Roughly one-third of Americans have switched religions at some point in their lives. So says best-selling author Robert D. Putnam, who will discuss this and other findings from his latest book, “American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us,” Sept. 26 at 7:30 p.m. in Susquehanna University’s Weber Chapel Auditorium. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Author of the best-selling “Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community,” Putnam will examine the research that informs “American Grace,” which is based on two of the most comprehensive surveys ever conducted on religion and public life in America. The book includes a dozen in-depth profiles of diverse congregations across the country, illuminating trends described by Putnam and co-author David Campbell in the lives of real Americans. Among them:

• Between one-third and one-half of all American marriages are interfaith.

• Young people are more opposed to abortion than their parents but more accepting of gay marriage.

• Even fervently religious Americans believe that people in other faiths can get to heaven.

Putnam is the Peter and Isabel Malkin professor of public policy at Harvard University. He has served as chairman of Harvard’s Department of Government, director of the Center for International Affairs and dean of the John F. Kennedy School of Government. He is also visiting professor and director of the Manchester Graduate Summer Programme in Social Change at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom.

Putnam’s talk is this year’s Alice Pope Shade lecture at Susquehanna. Sponsored annually by the university’s Department of Philosophy and Religion and the Office of the Chaplain, the Alice Pope Shade lecture spotlights nationally and internationally renowned religious scholars and leaders who explore the role religion plays in various aspects of public life—civic, social, spiritual, political, moral and environmental—and in the formation of individual character. The lectures are made possible by the Alice Pope Shade Fund, established in 1983.

Karen M. Jones


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