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New Mexico State professor says independence movement had religious inspiration

As the Fourth of July approaches, many will celebrate America's political independence, but there were also religiously based motives for the American revolution that are rarely pointed to today, said Greg Butler, associate professor of government at New Mexico State University.



New Mexico State University government professor Greg Butler is researching the impact religion and politics had on different cultures during the revolutionary period of America for a book on colonial political thought. (New Mexico State University photo

dependence movement was assigned a great deal of religious significance," Butler said. "It is a pattern of belief that goes all the way back to the early 1600s -- the idea that America has been assigned a special destiny by God. And so the movement for independence was given a great deal of inspiration by the belief that it was to be the final battle against evil European powers."


Butler said there were really two Americas during the revolutionary period -- politically motivated revolutionaries and those who were more religiously motivated.

"This religious significance is not often reflected in the writings, public speeches and the papers of people such as Thomas Jefferson, George Washington or James Madison, but it was firmly in the hearts and minds of the average American citizen," Butler said. "Many clergy at this time interpreted the revolution as America's push to achieve her destiny."

Butler is researching the impact religion and politics had on different cultures during the revolutionary period of America for a book on American political thought. The book traces the evolution of this idea over time, he said.

"This has traditionally not been a well explored topic. This is why I enjoy my research so much," Butler said.

An American Political Thought class taught by Butler during the second summer session at New Mexico State will compare the differences between the politically motived and the religiously motivated groups during the colonial period.

Photo is available at http://kiernan.nmsu.edu/newsphoto/butler_greg.jpg.
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