Waldman narrates the real story of how our nation’s Founders forged a new approach to religious liberty, a revolutionary formula that promoted faith . . . by leaving it alone.


…of course the net result has been that we are so free to practice anything from vegetarianism to sun gazing to burning sneakers instead of incense that we have no discernible religious underpinning for our culture whatsoever. Christians are forced to view a Crucifix suspended in urine in the name of art – and at taxpayer expense – and we shake our heads in wonder why the communists gave us a century long challenge and shudder at the thought that the Muslims may have enough strength of  faith to actually defeat us. Not unlike the slavery clause the first amendment shows the founders to be less prescient than equivocal and we are left to pray that there are enough Christians left to preserve us……….

 

Founding faith : providence, politics, and the birth of religious freedom in America Steven Waldman Freedom of religion United States New York : Random House, c 2008 Hardcover. 1st. ed. and printing. xvi, 277 p. ; 25 cm. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. Be sure and read the extended description at our head listing. VG/VG

The culture wars have distorted the dramatic story of how Americans came to worship freely. Many activists on the right maintain that the United States was founded as a “Christian nation.” Many on the left contend that the Founders were secular or Deist and that the First Amendment was designed to boldly separate church and state throughout the land. None of these claims are true, argues  Steven Waldman. With refreshing objectivity, Waldman narrates the real story of how our nation’s Founders forged a new approach to religious liberty, a revolutionary formula that promoted faith . . . by leaving it alone.

This fast-paced narrative begins with earlier settlers’ stunningly unsuccessful efforts to create a Christian paradise, and concludes with the presidencies of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison, during which the men who had devised lofty principles regarding the proper relationship between church and state struggled to practice what they’d preached. We see how religion helped cause, and fuel, the Revolutionary War, and how the surprising alliance between Enlightenment philosophers such as Jefferson and Madison and evangelical Christians resulted in separation of church and state.

As the drama unfolds, Founding Faith vividly describes the religious development of five Founders. Benjamin Franklin melded the morality-focused Puritan theology of his youth and the reason-based Enlightenment philosophy of his adulthood. John Adams’s pungent views on religion – hatred of the Church of England and Roman Catholics – stoked his revolutionary fervor and shaped his political strategy. George Washington came to view religious tolerance as a military necessity. Thomas Jefferson pursued a dramatic quest to “rescue” Jesus, in part by editing the Bible. Finally, it was James Madison – the tactical leader of the battle for religious freedom – who crafted an integrated vision of how to prevent tyranny while encouraging religious vibrancy.

The spiritual custody battle over the Founding Fathers and the role of religion in America continues today. Waldman provocatively argues that neither side in the culture war has accurately depicted the true origins of the First Amendment. He sets the record straight, revealing the real history of religious freedom to be dramatic, unexpected, paradoxical, and inspiring.

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