HDS 2180

Cities on a Hill: Images of America as a Redeemer Nation, 1630-present

Catherine Brekus


Beginning with John Winthrop's 1630 speech, "A Model of Christian Charity," and ending with the 2012 presidential election, we will examine images of America as a city on a hill. We will ask several questions: How and why have Americans conceived of the nation in sacred terms? How have religious images of the nation developed and changed over time? What are the implications of America's "civil religion"? We will discuss the Puritan idea of a national covenant, the millennial rhetoric of the American Revolution, defenses of manifest destiny, the sacrificial theology of the Civil War, religious and political rationales for global missions, the rise of the Christian Right, and presidential invocations of America as a city on a hill. We will also examine how women's rights leaders, abolitionists, and civil rights activists both critiqued and appropriated the image of America as a city on a hill.

Enrollment Limited: No
Open to BTI Students: Yes
Jointly offered as Religion 1512

Course website


0.50 credits
Fall 2014
Thurs 12pm-2pm
Rockefeller Hall Room 117

Relationship to Program Requirements

Program Requirement Area / Category / Art / Designation
MTS Area(s) of Focus
  • History of Christianity
  • Religions of the Americas
MDiv Distribution Category/ies
  • Christianity
MDiv Art(s) of Ministry
  • Denominational Polity
Language Course Designation(s) None