Alexis de Tocqueville, in Democracy in America, taught that religion is necessary for a healthy political order. American democracy, he argued, owned both its origins and its preservation to Christianity. According to him, this was no accident: by teaching the equality of all men before God, Christianity laid the groundwork for the belief in equality of all before the law. Christianity also played a key role in fostering the growth of democratic self-government in America. Pilgrims came to America in order to live out their religious beliefs in communities of their own creation. They settled a democratic government for their churches, and by so doing they developed the expectation that they would as well settle political issues democratically.

The situation has been somewhat different in Europe, where, since the end of Middle Age, several secular institutions and political movements arose independently of the Church and sometimes even against Church influence. Since the French Revolution, a laic state meant, sometimes, not only a state independent of Christian religion as a source of political legitimacy, but also a state committed to fight against religion. The situation changed in the mid twentieth Century, with the appearance of the Christian Democratic movement. This movement found its inspiration and base of support in the Christian social doctrine, and in some encyclicals of the popes and other Church documents, since Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum until de 2nd Vatican Council and beyond. Some catholic and protestant philosophers and theologians, like Ernst Troeltsch, Jacques Maritain and Emmanuel Mounier, offered important contributions to the issue. Meanwhile, Christian Democrat political parties operated autonomously from ecclesiastical organizations and often welcomed the support of agnostics or atheists. Over time, until their recent crisis in great European democracies like Germany or Italy, those parties came to adopt a more secular discourse, sometimes privileging pragmatic policies over overtly religious themes. More recently, some theologians like the Dominican father Gustavo Gutierrez tried to think the ways of applying Christian social teachings in contexts of extreme poverty and authoritarian regimes as in Latin America.

In our time, is strongly needed an analysis of the meaning of a Christian oriented political action in major democratic countries as a means to fuel a global dialogue on such issues as equitable governance, sustainability, or economic development and social justice, from a democratic perspective.

The International Journal of Philosophy and Social Values invites proposals that address, though may not be strictly limited to, the topics below:

  1. Christianity and democracy.
  2. Christianity and human rights.
  3. The Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church.
  4. Christianity, liberalism and socialism.
  5. Experiences of Christian Democratic governments in the XXth Century.
  6. Christian Democracy in Portugal.
  7. The role of religion in political life in Europe and North America.
  8. Christian political personalities.