Democracy in America

Why does Tocqueville believed that a simpler form of religious worship might be both necessary and good for American democracy?

Discuss the impact of Protestant religion on American morals.

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In America, religion is much more than another type of association and is highly beneficial both politically and societally. Religion teaches people how to use their freedom well. Since the government provides no absolute standards, it is necessary that religion provide some moral boundaries. As Tocqueville remarks, "Despotism may be able to do without faith, but freedom cannot. . . . How could a society escape destruction if, when political ties are relaxed, moral ties are not tightened? And what can be done with a people master of itself if it is not subject to God?" (Chapter 9). By bringing people together in a community of common belief, religion also combats individualism. Furthermore, religion is practically the only means of counteracting the materialistic tendencies of democratic peoples. Religion turns peoples minds beyond the physical, material aspects of life to the immortal and eternal. So strongly does Tocqueville see the necessity for such a force in democratic society that he warns society's leaders not to try to disturb the people's faith, for fear that "the soul may for a moment be found empty of faith and love of physical pleasures come and spread and fill all."