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Democracy and Christianity not opposed to each other; modern democracy is inspired by Christianity

2/15/2012 - 10:39 AM PST

Catholic PRWire

Rose Trabbic, Publicist, Ignatius Press
(239)867-4180 or

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (February 15, 2012) - For many elite thinkers today, Christianity and democracy are at odds with each other. Not so, says the great twentieth century philosopher Jacques Maritain. In his newly re-released "Christianity and Democracy and the Rights of Man and the Natural Law", he argues that Christianity provided the "evangelical inspiration" for democratic government. That inspiration, he insists, continues to be necessary, in order for democratic societies to resist despair in the face of contemporary evils and to uphold respect for human dignity and genuine freedom.

Today, a militant secularism now questions the compatibility of Christianity and democracy, with secularists claiming that the principles of a democratic society contradict Christianity and its claims of an objective, publically-accessible natural law. Many who now defend "democracy" hold radically different views of it from that of Maritain. Their hostility to democracy's Christian inspiration has led to the despair and the undermining of human dignity and freedom as Maritain predicted. Meanwhile, a radical, militant Islam challenges the idea of democracy from a theocratic perspective, which also threatens human dignity and freedom.

Perhaps even more than when published as two separate works in 1942 and 1943, "Christianity and Democracy and the Rights of Man and the Natural Law" provides key insights for Christians in shaping the political and social orders.

"Christianity and Democracy and the Rights of Man and the Natural Law" has received high praise from many of today's influential Christian thinkers:

"Maritain was one of the pioneers of the Catholic human rights revolution, which changed the course of 20th century politics. While helping the Church through a genuine development of social doctrine, Maritain helped forge some of the tools that eventually broke through the Berlin Wall." - George Weigel, Ethics and Public Policy Center

"In these passionate words one encounters the mind of Maritain in all its vigor and variety. His reflections on the challenges facing the world's democratic experiments - starkly realistic yet infused with Christian hope - are as timely today as they were seventy years ago." - Mary Ann Glendon, Harvard University

"This has been one of my all-time favorite 'David books' - those little books that take down Goliaths. Almost single-handedly, Maritain launched a hypothesis on the Christian (and Jewish) origins of the foundational axioms of democracy, of which many atheists are now coming to admit the truth. The sheer power of his hypothesis is more evident with every passing year. The republication of this classic is therefore bound to kindle longing for a deeper, more just reevaluation." - Michael Novak, American Enterprise Institute

"Maritain's achievement as a political thinker was to show that rightly understood, democratic liberty depends on faith, and that to lose God is to lose Man himself. Maritain's argument is needed today more than ever." - J. Budziszewski, University of Texas

"Maritain was the most well-known Catholic philosopher who sought to reconcile the 'rights' and 'democracy' principles of the modern state with classic western philosophical traditions. He was a man of true wisdom." - James V. Schall, S. J., Georgetown University

Dr. Raymond Dennehy, a professor of philosophy at the University of San Francisco, and author of the Foreword of this new edition, discovered the writing of Jacques Maritain during his undergraduate years at the University of San Francisco. However, it was during doctoral studies at the University of Toronto that he began to read Maritain more carefully. He ended up writing his doctoral dissertation on Maritain, entitled 'The Subject as the Metaphysical Ground of Maritain's Personalism.' He has published a number of articles on Maritain, was a founding member of the American Maritain Association, and served as chair of the association's nominations committee and later was its president for seven years.

Dr. Dennehy is available for interview about this book. He says, "The decision to reissue the single-volume edition of Maritain's classic works, Christianity and Democracy and the Rights of Man and the Natural Law, could not have come at a more urgent time, a time when, perhaps as never before, the future of democracy hangs in the balance."

To request a review copy or an interview with Dr. Raymond Dennehy, please contact:

Rose Trabbic, Publicist, Ignatius Press (239)867-4180 or


Ignatius Press  CA, 94122 US
Rose Trabbic - , 


Democracy, Christianity, Maritain, natural law, human rights


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