TO START THE holiest week in the Christian calendar, Joe Biden is expected to attend Palm Sunday mass at Holy Trinity in Georgetown. He is the most religiously observant president since Jimmy Carter. Considering how organised religion is collapsing, this is yet another way in which his presidency is a throwback.
He presides over a country in which more people claim to have “no religion” than to be Catholic or evangelical Christian. Yet unlike European countries, America is not becoming clearly less devotional as its churches retreat. Even Americans who have abandoned churchgoing are likelier to say they pray and believe in God than German or British Christians. They have rejected the institutions of religion, in other words, but not the religious urge—including a yearning for moral certainty and communal identity—that churches and synagogues have traditionally catered to.