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Preview — Founding Faith by Steven Waldman
Founding Faith: Providence, Politics, and the Birth of Religious Freedom in America
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 a...more
“I believe there’s ample evidence that Madison wanted a strict separation of church and state. He wanted it locally; he wanted it nationall ...more
While liberals and conservatives both selectively cite quotations in order to claim the Jeffersons, Washingtons, and Madi ...more
Founding Faith shows that appealing to the founders as the last word on the role of faith in politics and civic life doesn't answer the questions. There was considerable disagreement among the founders about the extent ...more
Any Religion that needs to be affirmed or endorsed by a particular worldly empire or nation's government in order to thrive is likely a weak religion using the government as a crutch. The laws of men forced upon the Kingdom of Christ is an intrusion the church can do without. If you don't believe that to be true then you might feel differently after reading this book. Religious liberty in the United States has thrived not in spite of the separation of ...more
I very much enjoyed his evenhanded approach in describing the Founding Fathers' goal of establishing religious freedom. The experiment continues today, and Waldman feels confident that the founders would be pleased with the journey it has taken: “[James] Madison had it right. Were he alive today, he would conclude, with awesome pride, that we are the most religiously vibra ...more
Waldman studies the issues around religious freedom in the pre- and post-Revolutionary period, disposing of myths both Left and Right (the Founders to the dubious extent that they can be generalized in their religious beliefs, were neither a gang of radical secularists and Deists, nor were they fervent Christians of the sort that today’s Religious Right would be like ...more
He also describes the role that faith played in colonial and revolutionary America, showing tha ...more
Were the Founding Father's all deists? Was America founded as a Christian nation?
The answer to these questions might surprise you?
To be clear, the author, Steven Waldman is a believer of sorts. He is the manager of Beliefnet.com and is active i ...more
In Founding Faith, Steven Waldman attempts to show that both groups are on ...more
Per the blurb, no, the book won't satisfy either fundies or Gnu Atheists, but it is overall pretty well-reasoned and I find its conclusions agreeable.
Per Madison, who had wanted all along, from the start, to "federalize" any US Const ...more
If I have one quibble it's that the author doesn't seem to have a firm grasp of the doctrine of incorporation, the principl ...more
Every USian should be required to read this book. It presents a well-researched historical perspective on the founding fathers, their religious views and how those views shaped the constitution and early direction of the United States. It is about as un-biased as you can get. The author gives the historical inforamtion, backed up with ...more
My only major criticism of the book is that Waldman probably underestimates the influence of Deism on many of the founding fathers. This is because he insists on a strict (orthodox?) definition of Deism that holds that ...more
He tries to draw attention by centering on a few famous founding father's backgrounds and words, but I think this discussion would have been much more enlightening and interesting if a broader lens had been used.
I would have liked to hear more of the instructive successes and failures of the individual colonies prior to the "founding." The author glosses over these conflicts in favor of a more biographical view of Jefferson, Washington, Adams, and Madison.
If the biographical approach w ...more