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

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  85 ratings  ·  11 reviews
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
Hardcover, 306 pages
Published July 6th 2005 by Farrar Straus Giroux (first published 2005)
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Divided by God is an engrossing history of America's church-state issues; the title is a bit misleading, as 90%+ of the book discusses the (distant) past, while only the last chapter details Feldman's proposed solution to the current stalemate.

Feldman presents several historical episodes that add a fascinating (and often unexpected) depth to current church/state issues in America. Several merit (brief) mention.

The history of religion in public schools is lively. (A preliminary note that, at the
I finally finished this book. It's pretty tough sledding; took me months to get through just 250 pages. But it's a complete education on church / state politics and legal challenges throughout American history. Feldman says America has tried four frameworks to deal with the First Amendment conundrum the framers left us with: nonsectarianism, strong secularism, legal secularism, and values evangelicalism. The latter two are still in play and deeply dividing the nation. He describes each in detail ...more
Daniel Solera
In late 2008, I read a book by Rob Boston on the separation of church and state. It focused specifically on how the Religious Right has hijacked this essential distinction for the wrong reasons, but came off sounding like a textbook and didn’t have a very compelling narrative. I found Noah Feldman’s Divided By God on Amazon and bought it hoping that it would have a more focused approach to the theme.

Unfortunately, it too was a bit pedagogic, but not to a fault. In discussing the separation of ch
Gary Miller
The author writes about all the church/state issues since the beginning of our country as well as the issues confronting us today and how to deal with them.

One such early story regarded how many jurisdictions would have a church tax. The government would collect taxes and then give to the denomination of the taxpayer’s choice. It was believed churches would die if they did not received tax money and it was further believed churches were important to society as they were the only institution prov
Mary Ellen
So basically, Feldman profffers that the answer to the problems causes by our church/state separation would be solved if only we: a) adhered to a strict separation in the legislative sense, but b) allowed for the free parade of religios symbols to be displayed in public spaces. In other words, don't use the words "In God We Trust" in federal currency, but let christmas trees, menorahs, and whatever else adorn the lawns in front of court houses.

It's ok. Interesting read but way less life-changin
I liked the history of church/state stuff. Made sense and was interesting. Turns out that for a long time, it was driven by keeping the Catholics down. And originally, it was basically about making sure the gov't can't tax in order to support any one church. But his description of the way things are now, and was borderline insulted with some of his suggestions of where to go from here. (*He* gets to decide what should bother me??)

(Really 3.5.)
Noah Feldman contributes some great perspectives about Church-State issues, including an important argument for judicial conservatism and retaining a careful financial separation of church and state that I whole-heartedly agree with. While in the end his legal suggestions are obviously not the entire solution to this problem, and he remains too liberal in some of his views, the book is certainly worth reading if only to get you thinking.
An instructive read for those interested in the topic. The author reviews the history of the church-state relationship in the United States (in my opinion, the most valuable contribution) and in the final chapter proposes a solution. The analysis seemed thorough, but the solution, while it may be a good one, was described in the ideal, without any suggestions as to how it might be brought about.
Alicia J
A bit too dry at times, but overall extremely informative and well written. I learned exactly what I was hoping to learn from it, but the textbook-style writing made it hard to get into.
This book was read as part of a non fiction book discussion group. A thought provoking book on how church and state can co-exist.
Explores an interesting facet of history (church-state relations), but it's repetitive.
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Noah Feldman (born 1970) is an American author and professor of law at Harvard Law School.

Feldman grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, where he attended the Maimonides School.[1]
He graduated from Harvard College in 1992, ranked first in the College, and earned a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University, where he earned a D.Phil in Islamic Thought in 1994. Upon his return from Oxford, he received his J
More about Noah Feldman...
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