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So Help Me God: The Founding Fathers and the First Great Battle Over Church and Stateby Forrest Church
Synopses & Reviews
Todays dispute over the line between church and state (or the lack thereof) is neither the first nor the fiercest in our history. In a revelatory look at our nations birth, Forrest Church re-creates our first great culture war—a tumultuous, nearly forgotten conflict that raged from George Washingtons presidency to James Monroes.
Religion was the most divisive issue in the nations early presidential elections. Battles raged over numerous issues while the bible and the Declaration of Independence competed for American affections. The religous political wars reached a vicious peak during the War of 1812; the American victory drove New England's Christian right to withdraw from electoral politics, thereby shaping our modern sense of church-state separation. No longer entangled, both church and state flourished.
Forrest Church has written a rich, page-turning history, a new vision of our earliest presidents beliefs that stands as a reminder and a warning for America today.
A prominent expert in religion and historian of American politics examines the role established religion has played in the administrations of American presidents, from Washington to the present
Todays dispute over the line between church and state (or the lack thereof) is neither the first nor the fiercest in our history. In a powerful retelling of the birth of the American body politic, religious historian Forrest Church describes our first great culture war—a tumultuous yet nearly forgotten conflict that raged from George Washingtons presidency to James Monroes. On one side of the battle, the proponents of order—Federalists, Congregationalists, New Englanders—believed that the only legitimate ruler of men is God. On the other side, the defenders of liberty—republicans, Baptists, Virginians—cheered the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, and believed that only the separation of church and state would preserve mans freedom. Would we be a nation under God, or with liberty for all?In this vigorous history, Forrest Church offers a new vision of our earliest presidents beliefs, reshaping assumptions about the debates that still reverberate across our land.
About the Author
FORREST CHURCH is currently serving his thirtieth year as minister of All Souls Church in Manhattan. He earned his doctorate in church history at Harvard and has written or edited twenty-two books, including The Separation of Church and State. He lives in New York.
Table of Contents
1. Out of Many, One 17
2. With Liberty and Order for All 54
3. Unum Versus Pluribus 83
4. A Churchgoing Animal 117
5. Black Cockades and Tricolors 146
6. Order Is Heavens First Law” 170
7. The Grand Question” 187
8. The American Dreamer 223
9. For Jefferson and Liberty” 244
10. Utopia Meets Reality 273
11. Constructing Freedoms Altar 299
12. Defending the Empire of Liberty 326
13. All for One and One for All 361
14. Considerations of Humanity 391
Appendix: Did George Washington
Say So Help Me God”? 445
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