When newly arrived international graduate students want to experience American culture beyond their invariably hyped-up Hollywood image, I always suggest attending both a local school board meeting and a religious service at any of the many local places of worship. To this day, enduring religion and public education reveal some of the cornerstones of American culture.
This begs the question: How can the U.S. be both so educated and so religious at the same time? Why does explaining America from this paradox enlighten? After all, education promotes science and social science, equality of cultures including their many religions, and general humanist and liberal ideas to kids from the get-go—all the ingredients needed for people to be secular. Theology and God as an explanation for human