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God of Liberty: A Religious History of the American Revolution

3.74  ·  Rating Details ·  135 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
Before the Revolutionary War, America was a nation divided by different faiths. But when the war for independence sparked in 1776, colonists united under the banner of religious freedom. Evangelical frontiersmen and Deist intellectuals set aside their differences to defend a belief they shared, the right to worship freely. Inspiring an unlikely but powerful alliance, it wa ...more
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Published October 5th 2010 by Basic Books (AZ)
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Mar 11, 2014 Bob rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If the relationship between religion and our national life in the U.S. were a Facebook status, it would be "it's complicated". Truth is, it always has been, according to Thomas S. Kidd.

In this "religious history of the American Revolution" Kidd gives us a highly readable yet nuanced account of our early religious history which avoids either the "Christian America" or "secular state" options. Nothing illustrates this more than the relationship between Baptist evangelist, John Leland and Thomas Je
Jason Walker
Jan 28, 2011 Jason Walker rated it really liked it
In this day we often think of all Christians being a unified voting block that will go conservative. In the time of the Revolution religious difference was denominational and it was important and it defined how charters for ccolonies had been written. This book pulls together a lot of disparate histories and gives the reader a good entry into understanding just how complex the history of this country is and why the short sighted politicians of today just don't stack up against those statesmen an ...more
Dec 07, 2010 John rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent book examining the role Christians played leading up to, through, and after the American Revolution. Kidd shows how Christians thought, prayed, and preached in the era. He examines the historical record to understand the role of public religion in the shaping of American government. I was fascinated by the way pastors confused issues in the spiritual realm with those of the civil realm. Pastors of the era seemingly saw the dawn of the American experiment as a harbinger of th ...more
Adam Shields
Jan 20, 2016 Adam Shields rated it really liked it
Short review: This is a good supplement to revolutionary history. Thomas Kidd is particularly paying attention to religious history here. I just finished reading Mark Noll's In the Beginning Was the Word, which is particularly a history of how scripture was used in North American from 1492 until 1783. The two books are helpful together. Kidd is showing the broader history, Noll is showing the more particular use of scripture and how that effected the colonial self understanding and how that comp ...more
Mr. V
May 20, 2017 Mr. V rated it liked it
I found it to be very informative and learned about how religious groups changed from the initial colonization up to and after the revolution. The first few chapters were a hard read but as the book went on the writing improved greatly.
Jan 08, 2017 Gabrielle rated it liked it
Shelves: borrowed
Some of the chapters are organized in a way that I found haphazard. Others (chapter 9 on the Constitution) were fabulous.
Apr 25, 2015 Andrea rated it it was amazing
Superb. If you are a geezer like me (a baby boomer), you learned a lot of this in school. If you are a Gen Xer, Y, or millennial, you probably haven't heard this and need to.
The book discusses the religious background of the American Founders and their age. Uniquely, in the American colonies, evangelical Christians and Enlightenment Deists (Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, Madison), made common cause in advocating for disestablishment of religion, in their common belief that the Creator
Mar 14, 2012 Tim rated it liked it
From the blurbs (esp. Noll, Stout, and Marsden) I expected more of this book. Yes, it provides a history of religion and the American Revolution. It is not exactly a synthesis, primary sources heavily outweigh other secondary texts in his footnotes, and it does not do much to offer a comprehensive argument beyond evangelicals and rationalists came together to create American religious freedoms and the beginnings of American civil religion. The first argument is much better described than the lat ...more
Greg Bailey
Jul 23, 2013 Greg Bailey rated it liked it
*God of Liberty* was helpful to me in making connections, linking strands in the stew of ideas, events, and personalities during the Revolutionary period that led to the United States as we know it. I learned some new things--the importance of the "Intolerable Acts," for instance--but mostly Kidd helped me gain a clearer picture of what the founders actually believed and why they shaped the new republic as they did. His conclusion--that the prominent place the founders gave to religion was due l ...more
Doug May
Jun 09, 2011 Doug May rated it really liked it
Great read to get a grip on the vital subject of the role of faith in the American founding. There are surprising revelations for the gamut of current political perspectives. The most surprising for me was the continental congressional rejection of the diest Franklin so motion to open in prayer for the reason that they could not agree one a denomination for the clergy . The battle over establishmentarianism is nuanced but in the end it is clear the humanists won out with an assist from the disfa ...more
Dec 09, 2015 Michael rated it really liked it
Our national history is complex. In this work, Thomas Kidd unpacks the nuances of religion and its relationship with liberty and the birth of America. Kidd does a nice job of giving an understanding of pre-rev religion and post rev, and the difference made by the Great Awakening.Where our founders Christians? What were their beliefs? How did these beliefs contribute to their actions? Kidd answers. Bear in mind, this isn't some blind, evangelical cheerleading session led by a popular pseudo schol ...more
Dec 15, 2010 Bea is currently reading it
FYI - I heard Thomas Kidd speak about this book, and requested that our public library purchase a copy. Here is his presentation....

I've just begun reading GOD OF LIBERTY. So glad to learn more about "The Great Awakening" that led to the concept of "separation of church and state" See also -

Here's another "good read" that provides perspective on this time period.

The Tragic Story of the Explusion of th
Linda Sheffield
Mar 20, 2015 Linda Sheffield rated it really liked it
This was a fascinating book. I think people would be very surprised about the influence of religious beliefs and organized religion (churches) in the establishing of the United States, especially in light of the huge effort to exclude religious influence from political life today. The author was very thorough, however, I did feel the book was not an easy read. No matter, it is an important work. I would highly recommend it.
Mark Jr.
Dec 27, 2012 Mark Jr. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, 2012
What I needed, though not what I wanted. I wanted more analysis and evaluation—especially of current attempts to say that America is a "Christian nation." What I got was what a first step toward answering that question, a series of chapters aptly describing the religious milieu of the American revolutionary period. Now I'm looking for analysis, though he does provide a little at the end of chapters and in the epilogue.

Kidd did his homework, a very good and evenhanded book.
Paul Heidebrecht
Jul 27, 2011 Paul Heidebrecht rated it really liked it
Superb narrative on the religious dimensions of the American Revolution and the founding of the nation. Kidd reveals the complexity of the issue and gets us past the oversimplified debates about the US as a Christian nation. We are not as secular as some think and we are not as Christian as others think. Evangelicals played a bigger role in the Revolution than I realized but they also made compromises that in hindsight look pretty bad.
Robert D. Cornwall
Jan 22, 2011 Robert D. Cornwall rated it it was amazing
This is an interesting book. It reminds us that the situation in the Revolutionary era was rather complex, but as we wrestle with the question as to whether or not the Founders were Christians or Deists, Kidd reminds us that ultimately the solution that emerged came about through an alliance of evangelicals (mostly Baptists) and Rationalists (such as Jefferson and Madison), with both parties, for different reasons arguing for religious liberty.
Mar 16, 2017 Russ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must-read to understand the role of religion, especially Christianity, in the founding of the nation. An especially useful counterbalance to both those who quote Jefferson's "wall of separation" to the exclusion of his more positive views of religion in the public realm, as well as to those who promote "Christian Nation" revisionism.
Mar 31, 2016 Tyler rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
There is some good information and research in this book, but as a composition it's not that great. Each chapter overviews a different aspect of the greater topic, but each one either needed less attention or more. There was a lack of consistent flow in the presentation. The point is well taken, but in a word, it was boring.
Jaclyn Laigle
Oct 13, 2016 Jaclyn Laigle rated it really liked it
An interesting look at the important role religion played in the Era of the American Revolution. Although their beliefs were diverse, baptists, Deists, catholics, Jews, etc. found a common cause of liberty that unified them in making the most important movement in American history.
Jay Perkins
May 06, 2012 Jay Perkins rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-church
Enoch Thomas
Jan 17, 2011 Tom rated it really liked it
A good read. Raises questions and provides some answers @ the cooperation between Evangelicals and Deists like Jefferson, Adams, Franklin and others in bringing about the birth of the Republic.
Dec 02, 2013 Josh rated it really liked it
Kidd is a skilled historian and a good writer. This book presents a multifaceted picture of a complex subject: the place of religion in the American Revolution.
Nov 10, 2010 Brad rated it really liked it
Fantastic...simply fantastic!
Jan 21, 2011 Timothy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent background on the various theological currents swirling around the early years of the US.
Aaron Morrison
Aaron Morrison rated it really liked it
Sep 09, 2012
Bret rated it it was amazing
Dec 13, 2011
Zachary Makowski
Zachary Makowski rated it it was ok
Apr 02, 2013
Rob rated it really liked it
Aug 27, 2015
Vernon rated it really liked it
Jun 05, 2011
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Thomas S. Kidd teaches history at Baylor University, and is Senior Fellow at Baylor's Institute for Studies of Religion. Dr. Kidd has appeared on the Glenn Beck tv program, the Hugh Hewitt and Dennis Prager radio shows, and written columns for USA Today and the Washington Post. He is a columnist for His latest book is Patrick Henry: First Among Patriots. Other books include God of Lib ...more
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