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

by

Divided by God: America's Church-State Problem--And What We Should Do about It Cover

 

Review-A-Day

"Compared with the thicket of sectarian tensions in Iraq and elsewhere in the Islamic world, America's religious conflicts must have seemed fairly easy to dispatch, and in Divided by God, Feldman sets out to do just that. The book takes a brisk, fair and fascinating tour through the history of church-state separation in America. It culminates in a plan for resolving the furies of the culture war that is theoretically elegant and historically grounded. Unfortunately, it is almost completely divorced from political realities and the facts on the ground." Michelle Goldberg, Salon.com (read the entire Salon.com review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A brilliant and urgent appraisal of one of the most profound conflicts of our time. Even before George W. Bush gained reelection by wooing religiously devout "values voters," it was clear that church-state matters in the United States had reached a crisis. With Divided by God, Noah Feldman shows that the crisis is as old as this country — and looks to our nation's past to show how it might be resolved.

Today more than ever, ours is a religiously diverse society: Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist as well as Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish. And yet more than ever, committed Christians are making themselves felt in politics and culture.

What are the implications of this paradox? To answer this question, Feldman makes clear that again and again in our nation's 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 resolved conflicts over the Bible, the Pledge of Allegiance, and the teaching of evolution through appeals to shared values of liberty, equality, and freedom of conscience. And he proposes a brilliant solution to our current crisis, one that honors our religious diversity while respecting the long-held conviction that religion and state should not mix.

Divided by God speaks to the headlines, even as it tells the story of a long-running conflict that has made the American people who we are.

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. 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.' Debates in the 19th century focused on public schools, whose culture of 'nonsectarian Christianity' (really Protestantism) created dilemmas for Catholics, and in the 20th century faced challenges from secularists and evangelicals — the former won in the courts until very recently; the latter, often enough, won public opinion. Feldman proposes a compromise: that government '[allow] greater space for public manifestations of religion' while preventing government from linking itself with 'religious institutions' (by funding them, for example). 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. Agent, Heather Schroder. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"A reasoned, reasonable and consensus-seeking argument that is, of course, in danger of going unheard amid all the shouting." Kirkus Reviews

Synopsis:

A brilliant and urgent appraisal of one of the most profound conflicts of our time

Even before George W. Bush gained reelection by wooing religiously devout "values voters," it was clear that church-state matters in the United States had reached a crisis. With Divided by God, Noah Feldman shows that the crisis is as old as this country--and looks to our nation's past to show how it might be resolved.

Today more than ever, ours is a religiously diverse society: Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist as well as Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish. And yet more than ever, committed Christians are making themselves felt in politics and culture.

What are the implications of this paradox? To answer this question, Feldman makes clear that again and again in our nation's 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 resolved conflicts over the Bible, the Pledge of Allegiance, and the teaching of evolution through appeals to shared values of liberty, equality, and freedom of conscience. And he proposes a brilliant solution to our current crisis, one that honors our religious diversity while respecting the long-held conviction that religion and state should not mix.

Divided by God speaks to the headlines, even as it tells the story of a long-running conflict that has made the American people who we are.

About the Author

Noah Feldman, who teaches law at New York University, is the author of After Jihad and What We Owe Iraq. He lives in New York and Washington, D.C.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780374281311
Subtitle:
America's Church-State Problem--and What We Should Do About It
Author:
Feldman, Noah
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Subject:
General
Subject:
History
Subject:
Church & State
Subject:
Church and state
Subject:
Religion, Politics & State
Subject:
Americas (North Central South West Indies)
Subject:
United States - General
Subject:
American Government/General
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
20060627
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Includes Notes and an Index
Pages:
320
Dimensions:
9.00 x 6.00 in

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Related Subjects

Religion » Christianity » Church History » American

Divided by God: America's Church-State Problem--And What We Should Do about It Used Hardcover
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Product details 320 pages Farrar Straus Giroux - English 9780374281311 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "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.' Debates in the 19th century focused on public schools, whose culture of 'nonsectarian Christianity' (really Protestantism) created dilemmas for Catholics, and in the 20th century faced challenges from secularists and evangelicals — the former won in the courts until very recently; the latter, often enough, won public opinion. Feldman proposes a compromise: that government '[allow] greater space for public manifestations of religion' while preventing government from linking itself with 'religious institutions' (by funding them, for example). 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. Agent, Heather Schroder. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "Compared with the thicket of sectarian tensions in Iraq and elsewhere in the Islamic world, America's religious conflicts must have seemed fairly easy to dispatch, and in Divided by God, Feldman sets out to do just that. The book takes a brisk, fair and fascinating tour through the history of church-state separation in America. It culminates in a plan for resolving the furies of the culture war that is theoretically elegant and historically grounded. Unfortunately, it is almost completely divorced from political realities and the facts on the ground." (read the entire Salon.com review)
"Review" by , "A reasoned, reasonable and consensus-seeking argument that is, of course, in danger of going unheard amid all the shouting."
"Synopsis" by ,
A brilliant and urgent appraisal of one of the most profound conflicts of our time

Even before George W. Bush gained reelection by wooing religiously devout "values voters," it was clear that church-state matters in the United States had reached a crisis. With Divided by God, Noah Feldman shows that the crisis is as old as this country--and looks to our nation's past to show how it might be resolved.

Today more than ever, ours is a religiously diverse society: Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist as well as Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish. And yet more than ever, committed Christians are making themselves felt in politics and culture.

What are the implications of this paradox? To answer this question, Feldman makes clear that again and again in our nation's 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 resolved conflicts over the Bible, the Pledge of Allegiance, and the teaching of evolution through appeals to shared values of liberty, equality, and freedom of conscience. And he proposes a brilliant solution to our current crisis, one that honors our religious diversity while respecting the long-held conviction that religion and state should not mix.

Divided by God speaks to the headlines, even as it tells the story of a long-running conflict that has made the American people who we are.

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