Divided by God: Americas Church-State Problem--and What We Should Do About It

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Divided by Godspeaks to the headlines, even as it tells the story of a long-running conflict that has made the American people who we are. Noah Feldman, who teaches law at New York University, has emerged as the leading expert on the relations between religion and government worldwide.

He is the author of two previous books: After Jihad, which put him "into the center of an unruly brawl now raging in policy circles over what to do with the Arab world" The New York Times Book Review ; andWhat We Owe Iraq, which Richard Clarke called "insightful, accessible, and highly recommended. Bush gained re-election through a frank appeal to religiously devout "values voters," it was clear that church-state matters in the United States had reached a crisis--one that threatens to split the country in two. WithDivided by God, Noah Feldman shows that the crisis is as old as America--and looks to our nation's past to show how it might be resolved.

And yet at the same time, committed Christians are making their influence felt in politics and culture with unprecedented vigor. What are the implications of this seemingly contradictory state of affairs? To answer the question, Feldman tells the story of the relations between religion and American government, making clear that again and again in our history, diversity has forced us to redraw the lines in the church-state divide. In vivid, dramatic chapters, he describes how we as a people have settled controversies over the Bible, the Pledge of Allegiance, and the teaching of evolution through appeals to shared values of liberty, equality, and freedom of conscience.

Divided by God: America's Church-State Problem--and What We Should Do About It

And he proposes a brilliant solution to our current crisis--an approach that would honor our religious diversity while respecting the long-held conviction that religion and state should not mix. Divided by Godspeaks to the headlines, even as it tells the story of a long-running conflict that has shaped the American people--indeed, made us who we are. It is a window on a mind--and a nation--at important.

Madison thought that the multitude of contending Protestant denominations of his time would ensure that no one of them ever became the established national church. His Virginia constituency differed with him, however, inducing him to spearhead the drafting of the First Amendment's religion clauses that forbid Congress from establishing a national church and interfering with religious expression.

They seem simple enough, and at the end of an invaluable survey of the tides of religious revival and secularism that have washed over the U.

His advocacy comes after enthralling exposition of what the Founding Fathers thought of church-state separation today's conservatives and liberals are both mistaken about this ; how the rise of public education sharpened church-state issues; the career of early, hard-line antispiritual secularism and the reaction to it that arose from Protestant fundamentalism; and the histories and characteristics of legal secularism and values evangelicalism softer, more inclusive versions of, respectively, strict secularism and fundamentalism. Intelligently respectful of both secularist and religious camps, this is the ideal book with which to ponder the Supreme Court's recent Ten Commandments decisions and to hope for balance in the future of American church-state relations.

Feldman, a legal rising star and author of After Jihad a look at democracy and Islam , turns his attention to America's battle over law and religious values in this lucid and careful study. Those Feldman calls "legal secularists" want the state wholly cleansed of religion, while "values evangelicals" want American government to endorse the Christianity on which they say its authority rests.

Feldman thinks both positions too narrow for America's tastes and needs. Much of his volume shows how those needs have changed. James Madison and his friends, Feldman writes, hoped to "protect religion from government, not the other way round. Feldman proposes a compromise: The "values" controversy, as Feldman shows, concerns electoral clout, not just legal reasoning. His patient historical chapters will leave readers on all sides far more informed as matters like stem-cell research and the Supreme Court's forthcoming 10 Commandments decision take the headlines.

War and the Ethics of Nation Building traces the evolution of the role of religion in American political life from the Colonial period to the present, paying particular attention to the development of legal doctrines. The First Amendment stipulates that Congress cannot pass laws prohibiting the free exercise of religion, yet throughout our country's history, Americans have debated what role, if any, religion should have in government and how government should treat religion.

Recent elections, legislation, confirmation proceedings, and Supreme Court decisions have fanned the embers of this ever-hot topic, causing them to ignite and produce intensely heated-and damaging-partisan rhetoric. This book has two great strengths: An excellent, very readable work, deserving a wide audience; highly recommended for all libraries. Thank you for using the catalog. America's church-state problem-- and what we should do about it. The origins -- Schools and morals -- The birth of American secularism -- The fundamentals, the fundamentalists, and the monkey trial -- The courts and the rise of legal secularism -- The values evangelicals -- Out of many, one -- Reconciliaton and the American experiment.

Church and state -- United States -- History. Summary A brilliant and urgent appraisal of one of the most profound conflicts of our time Even before George W. Booklist Review Madison thought that the multitude of contending Protestant denominations of his time would ensure that no one of them ever became the established national church. Publisher's Weekly Review Feldman, a legal rising star and author of After Jihad a look at democracy and Islam , turns his attention to America's battle over law and religious values in this lucid and careful study.

Copyright c by Noah Feldman. For ten days in August , with an insurgency brewing and soldiers dying in newly conquered Iraq , the nation's attention suddenly became riveted on sleepy Montgomery , Alabama. Late one night the previous winter, Judge Roy Moore, the elected chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, had arranged for a two-and-a-half-ton block of granite to be erected in the rotunda of his courthouse. The enormous rock, which took a team of men and machinery to move, was inscribed with the Ten Commandments.

A federal district court found the monument to be an unconstitutional infringement on the separation of church and state, and ordered its removal; in late summer, a federal court of appeals agreed. This extraordinary act of civil disobedience by a judge sworn to uphold the law brought out spokespeople and activists for both of the two most prominent schools of thought about church and state in the contemporary United States. On the front steps of the courthouse and on live television, their arguments began with the framers of the Constitution.

The evangelicals declared that our entire system was built on Judeo-Christian values, and that the founding fathers, whose moral sense was based on the Bible, would have been astonished and horrified to see the Ten Commandments proscribed by court order. The secularists invoked Thomas Jefferson and James Madison to support their view that the symbols of religion ought to be kept out of the governmental sphere altogether.

Both sides shared the assumption that they could win the argument if they could prove that history was on their side. The Montgomery controversy mattered for reasons greater than the specter of a politically ambitious Alabama judge refusing to follow a federal court's order, or the constitutional question of whether the Ten Commandments may lawfully be displayed in public places, which the Supreme Court had yet to resolve.

With a presidential election looming, the evangelicals and the secularists were enacting in microcosm the national debate about the right relationship between religion and government in the United States. The stakes of that debate extend beyond statues to billions of dollars in government funding, basic moral questions of life, death, and family, and the recurrent challenge of what it means for Americans to belong to a nation. The Ten Commandments were just a symbolic stand-in. Judge Moore had struck a vein of division that runs deep in America 's and its psyche.

Moore , F. July 1, , cert den. North and South, he observed in his second inaugural address, prayed to the same God and read the same Bible, even if they interpreted it differently. Through a shared faith, the American people could someday bind up the nation's wounds, inflicted by a just God as punishment for the original sin of slavery. Today, the overwhelming majority of Americans still say they believe in God, but a common understanding of how faith should inform nationhood can no longer bring Americans together.

You'll know if or when you're supposed to read this book.

Constitution Lecture 9: Separation of Church and State

The Problem of God: This book is about growth, not guilt. This is real help for real problems that every parent faces. Ask Until It Is Given!: Discover the cause of virtually all poverty a mindset manifesting as poor health, lack of money, unhappy relationships and learn how to transcend it. Do you want a healthy, joyful, Christ-centered marriage? Then you must embrace the principles in God's Word! Are you afraid to die? If that's you, read this true story of a young boy's return from death Review "A reasoned, reasonable and consensus-seeking argument that is, of course, in danger of going unheard amid all the shouting.

Related Video Shorts 0 Upload your video. Try the Kindle edition and experience these great reading features: Share your thoughts with other customers. Write a customer review. Read reviews that mention church and state establishment clause founding fathers united states divided by god religion and politics great book noah feldman history of church-state god in the pledge country government christian political law legal public today allow american.

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. A great book that details the fact that details how we have always as a nation had to deal with crises dealing with religious groups with great political and social clout trying to marginalize those of minority faiths, this conflict has always been with us.

But in the United States it has reached a crisis point with politicians who are hell bent on making this country into a Christian theocracy exerting more and more influence on the political process. One person found this helpful. Feldman's book is an intelligently written discussion of both the history of church-state law in the U. Feldman works his way from the founding to the latest Supreme Court decisions of the last 15 years which have reshaped the interpretation of the Establishment Clause; the result is a fascinating overview of the legal and cultural evolution of America's ideas about church and state.

The great strength of this book is its focus on ideas and their development. Feldman does an excellent job laying out the reasoning used by various sides of the church-state debates over the last years; he also frequently critiques these historical arguments, not as a partisan, but as more of a guide to these debates.

There are two larger issues that were problematic for me in this book: First, I think Feldman's discussion of the church-state arguments made by the framers of the Constitution is too cursory and somewhat oversimplified. The Founding-era debates were arguably the most sophisticated and philosophically complex of all in American church-state history, and a bulkier, more rigorous chapter would have been better. Second, I think Feldman overemphasizes the partisan divide over church and state in our contemporary culture.

This sentence captures Feldman's outlook: They are the product of an ongoing battle. The field has changed, some objectives have been captured and others lost, and disorder reigns.

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At the very least, I doubt that most Americans fall neatly into either of the two warring camps Feldman describes, although there are activist groups that certainly do fit. This is a great book - one of best books on the subject I have read covering the specific legal and cultural arguments over all of American history and not just a specific era. I highly recommend it.

In "Divided By God" Noah Feldman examines the church state issue from the problem of state, and colony, sponsored churches faced by the Founding Fathers, traces the history of church state relations, and how the ideas of the Founding Fathers were interpreted, from then to now. At the end he poses a possible solution that is well worth considering. His scholarship is excellent, and his writing is thoroughly readable.

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Those who have strong secularist tendencies as well as those with strong religious convictions should read this "outside the box" and potential solution to a huge dividing factor in American political life today. Unlike the rest of the "reviewers", I think that this book: America's Church-State Problem" addresses a very real problem within the culture of the United States. Feldman addresses the history of the problem extremely accurately. His recounting of that history may be a little dry but his conclusions are on target, in my humble opinion.

This is a book written for this time, for unlike any time previous to this, we are in national crisis attempting to determine who shall rule the "ways and means of our country". This book is an indepth study of the history of the difficulties of our "balanced" church-state relationship.

This book makes perfect sense in the context of our confused times. What is it anyways?

Divided by God: America's Church-State Problem--and What We Should Do About It by Noah Feldman

I think the entire premise of this book is based on the history of the concept of secularism and all the definitions associated with it. Because of his legal background, Feldman draws together the cases that have helped shape America's face with the history behind the cases. It is very interesting to see how America's idea of secularism has changed and why.


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Kindle Edition Verified Purchase. Extremely well written and well conceptualized book. Learned a lot about the contiual battle between religious freedom and goernment's relationshipn to religion. See all 23 reviews. Most recent customer reviews. Published 1 year ago. Published on June 1, Published on October 16, Published on February 10, Published on January 12, Published on February 4, Published on December 18,