Combining the Spirit of Religion and the Spirit of Liberty: The Tocqueville Thesis Revisited


Location: 100 McKenna Hall

Notre Dame will be hosting a conference on religion and American politics on September 29 - 30. The Tocqueville Program for Inquiry into the Place of Religion in American Public Life and the Liberty Fund of Indianapolis are cosponsoring this conference in honor of the Liberty Fund's recent publication of a bilingual edition of Alexis ide Tocqueville's book Democracy in America. The conference will include speakers from around the globe discussing the importance of the 19th century Frenchman's analysis of the connection between freedom and religion in American democracy. Attendance is open to the public. 

At a time when questions about religion and freedom in American public life are as urgent as ever, the conference will discuss whether Tocqueville's judgments about America were sound then and now. Tocqueville, a young French aristocrat, visited America in 1831 and thought that American democracy showed how to combine both "the spirit of liberty" and "the spirit of religion," two forces thought by Europeans to be opposed. Tocqueville thought that successful democracies had to combine these two spirits.  Speakers will discuss whether religion and liberty must be combined, or even can be combined.

Professor Eduardo Nolla will give the keynote address, "Tocqueville's Pendulum: Thoughts on Religion, Liberty and Reason in Democratic Times," at 7:30PM on Sept. 29. Refreshments will follow. On Sept. 30 there will be two panels, the first from 9:30 - 11:30AM and the second from 2 - 4PM. 

For more information on the Tocqueville Program and a full conference schedule, please visit