The Future
of American Democracy

In a moment defined by cascading crises, many across the nation and world are wondering aloud about the future of American democracy. Princeton Theological Seminary will confront this uncertainty head-on, convening a series of timely conversations with leaders poised to shape that future.

Series highlights are available below, but to stay up to date on all the content and resources developed in the year ahead, subscribe today.

"The very idea of Christianity in the public square has come to mean something arrogant and exclusionary. There are a lot of folks out there hungry for a different way."

Dr. Heath W. Carter, Series Convener

Series Conversations

Recordings and resources from the full series.

“Pick Your Fight, Pastor”
The National Council
of Churches and the
Work Left To Do

Featuring Bishop Vashti McKenzie, Interim General Secretary/President of the National Council of Churches

This interview covers the hopes for the future of mainline Protestantism in an era of historic disaffiliation from Christian churches; as well as whether it is possible to build bridges across lines of difference even while staking out prophetic stands on urgent questions of justice.

Faith in Democracy?

Featuring Secretary Condoleezza Rice and Dr. Lerone Martin

Secretary Rice discusses her role in shaping American foreign and public policy over the last generation; as well as the prospects for democracy, at home and abroad. She is interviewed by Dr. Lerone Martin, Associate Professor of Religious Studies and the Martin Luther King, Jr., Centennial Chair and Director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University.

Faltering Faith in Institutions:
A Panel Conversation

Featuring Jamelle Bouie, Rev. Dr. Walter Kim,
and Shannon Watts

This conversation brings together three individuals known for creative thought and distinguished leadership when it comes to the role of institutions in our society. This wide-ranging conversation will offer insight and new vantage points on the way we work with, within, and around institutions to build the future we want.

The Future of Civil Rights: A Conversation with Sherrilyn Ifill 

Featuring Sherrilyn Ifill

At the very same moment when many are worried about the erosion of Civil Rights, there is more uncertainty than ever that established institutions deliver the change we need. How can we achieve a country that makes good on the promise of "liberty and justice for all"? Dr. Heath W. Carter will explore these questions and more in conversation with Sherrilyn Ifill, former President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.


Does Institutional Christianity Have a Future?

Featuring Adam Russell Taylor and Russel Moore

This interview features Rev. Adam Russell Taylor, President of Sojourners, and Rev. Dr. Russell Moore, Public Theologian at Christianity Today. They discuss the ongoing role Christian institutions play in supporting the project of democracy, and how political binaries work against our identities as siblings in Christ.

Is Life Together Still Possible? Polarization and Princeton Seminary

Featuring Eric D. Barreto, John R. Bowlin,
and Hanna Reichel

Princeton Theological Seminary faculty discuss the impact of polarization on students, campus culture, the classroom, and how theological education offers a way forward.

Can Bipartisanship Break Through?

Featuring Senator Chris Murphy

A conversation with Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, who, in 2022, helped broker a deal to break a 30-year political logjam around regulating firearms, and pass a historic piece of bipartisan gun safety legislation.

Is Persuasion Still Possible?

Featuring Anand Giridharadas

A conversation with Anand Giridharadas, author of The Persuaders: At the Front Lines of the Fight for Hearts, Minds, and Democracy, an insider account of activists, politicians, educators, and everyday citizens working to change minds, bridge divisions, and fight for democracy.


The Deeper Sources of Polarization in American Religious Life

Featuring Robert Wuthnow and Gerardo Martî

This conversation looks back to the civil rights era to find the origins of contemporary polarization in American religious life. It closes with advice for leaders navigating our current dynamic landscape, with a focus on providing wholeness to communities.


The Church in a Nation Divided

Featuring Rev. Melissa Florer-Bixler, Rev. Duke Kwon,
and Bishop Karen Oliveto

Almost 35 years ago, Princeton sociologist Robert Wuthnow traced the decline of denominational identity and the rising salience of ideology in his book The Restructuring of American Religion. Ezra Klein, in his book Why We’re Polarized, argues that our political identities have become mega-identities, dominating all other forms of personal and communal identification — including religious ones. This conversation explores how Christians can most faithfully navigate the sharp edges of today’s polarized society.


The Challenge of Polarization

Featuring Jane Coaston, Symone Sanders-Townsend, and Congressman Peter Meijer

Where Americans once saw neighbors, they now see enemies. Increasingly, Republicans and Democrats alike see members of the other party as not just wrong on key issues, but — according to the Pew Research Center — as immoral, dishonest, closed-minded, and a threat to the nation’s well-being. The reverberations of extreme polarization are felt far from the realm of formal politics, in schools and churches and local communities where some seem ready to give up entirely on the age-old art of persuasion. How did we get so divided? And where do we go from here?


Don’t Miss What’s Next!

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About the Convener

Dr. Heath W. Carter (@heathwcarter) is an associate professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, where he teaches and writes about the intersection of Christianity and American public life.

He is currently working on a new book titled On Earth as it is in Heaven: Social Christians and the Fight to End American Inequality (under contract with Oxford University Press), which retells the story of the American social gospel.

Our Commitment
in Every Conversation

To be broad, fair, illuminating,
and oriented toward truth.

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