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The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism Is Un-American

4.52  ·  Rating details ·  725 ratings  ·  133 reviews
Do “In God We Trust,” the Declaration of Independence, and other historical “evidence” prove that America was founded on Judeo-Christian principles? Are the Ten Commandments the basis for American law? A constitutional attorney dives into the debate about religion’s role in America’s founding.
 
In today’s contentious political climate, understanding religion’s role in Ame
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Hardcover, 1st, 352 pages
Published May 14th 2019 by Sterling
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Daniel S.
May 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The publication of The Founding Myth could not have come at a better time. As I write this review, three states - Georgia, Ohio, and Alabama - have just passed laws effectively banning abortion. Two more states - Texas and Missouri - are poised to follow suit. Predictably, these bills have been passed along strictly religious lines in states where Christian Nationalists continue to hold enormous influence.

The Founding Myth exposes the oft-repeated lie that "America was founded on Judeo-Christian
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Ryan Boissonneault
May 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Was America founded as a Christian nation? As we’ll see, the answer is so obvious and the argument so lopsided that it’s a wonder the counter-argument is ever made at all. But unfortunately, Christian nationalism, which should be a politically impotent fringe movement, is in fact a powerful force that not only got Donald Trump elected but that has, with surprising success, redefined what it means to be an American.

That something as specious as Christian nationalism has and continues to influence
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Book
Jun 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism Is Un-American by Andrew Seidel

“The Founding Myth” exposes the myth that America was founded on Christian principles and it is an effective assault on the Christian nationalist identity. Constitutional and civic rights attorney at the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), Andrew Seidel, takes the reader on a hard-hitting tour de force as he meticulously dismantles the concept of a Christian nation. This important 354-page book includes twenty-six c
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Paige
Nov 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
Seidel contends America was not founded on Judeo-Christian principles, but he misses the full picture. As an atheist who so fervently believes this to be true, Seidel often speaks in absolutes and omits counterarguments which makes his thesis less persuasive. He further fails to clearly define Judeo-Christian principles, so the reader is left to create their own version. Broadly, being a person raised Catholic who later turned atheist, my interpretation is they are a collection of moral and reli ...more
Kem White
Jun 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Seidel succeeds with this book. He thoroughly and convincingly explains why Christian Nationalism is un-American. You come away from this book understanding why revisionist Christianist history is so pernicious to the founding principles of this country, eager to fight religion's incursions into our secular lives and government, and then...

Nothing. No suggestions for how or where to proceed. No ideas for the next steps we're to take. Just a concluding paragraph where Seidel tells you that it wa
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Brad
May 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an incredibly informative, tirelessly researched, and worryingly prescient book that you need to read.

Mr. Seidel goes claim by claim, dismantling the oft-repeated argument that America was founded on Judeo-Christian principals.

Whats more, he somehow managed to craft a book this densely packed with citation into something incredibly tightly written, well paced, and absolutely accessable to anyone. A boring or dry textbook this is not.
Kendra
What a fantastic book! Well written, an amazing and well articulated amount of info, and an intense, enjoyable read, too. In the quest for Christian Nationalism, the hypocrisy of CN's stand out. I appreciated the breakdown of the 10 Commandments vs the Constitution/Bill of Rights, etc., and how they fundamentally cannot work together. This will be an excellent multi-read, reference book. ...more
Sylvia
Dec 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very interesting book about the backgrounds of the founding of the US and how over the time the ideals of the Founding Fathers withered and seems to be forgotten. It would be a good thing if students in the US would read this book and realize that the US is founded on a strict separation of church and state.
Marianne Wason
Sep 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read much of The Founding Myth before I needed to return it to the owner. The clickbait title is the weakest aspect of the book (why do publishers do this?) -- it labels the book as yet another partisan rant, a polemic of rage. But it's not. Seidel states clearly in his introduction that he means to demonstrate, with evidence, that the long-held positions that America is a "Christian nation," and more recently, that America was "founded on Judeo-Christian principles," are historically incorrec ...more
Scott Holstad
An important, well written book, logical and factually accurate. My only problem is it's so ... "lawyer-speak," I mean uber dry! I would have given another star if Seidel had simply handed it over to a good, veteran co-author who could have injected a little prose, a little life into it. I mean I've published academic papers and white papers, and your average reader would have said about those works what I just wrote about this book. But the difference is those papers were not intended for gener ...more
Jake
Jan 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Amen to this book. So we all know deep down that the founders of the USA were original thinkers and were pretty radical for their time, deeply influenced by enlightenment values. But, yet we here more and more, every day that this is a Christian nation and that the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were founded on Christian values and we need to meld god and government to get back to where we came from. Seidel, who is an accomplished lawyer, destroys this claim. (I'll take a break for ...more
Gendou
Jan 21, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is a highly engaging read! It's a difficult subject, but the argumentation is diamond clear and diamond strong.

It's also a very, very important book. Especially at this challenging time in US history. Christian nationalism is an important lens through which to see the recent capitol riot, for example. Everyone who cares about US politics should read this book so they can successfully argue against this dangerous mythological historical narrative.

In summary, the founding fathers in the found
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Jay Dougherty
Apr 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-books-2020
An excellent, well written book that will be the standard bearer for its topic for years to come. Extremely well researched and great use of footnotes and citations.
Linkpead
Jul 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Have you ever found yourself arguing that the United States as a political entity is a Christian nation or is founded upon biblical or Judeo-Christian principles?

I suggest you evaluate the arguments and evidence in this book to see if your beliefs or presumptions hold up, or if they are simply a product of religious overreach that has been unfortunately layered in and reinforced in error over the history of this nation.

Many of the most influential founding fathers well understood the danger of
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Charles Wagner
Oct 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
The wall between church and state

Andrew Seidel is currently the Director of Strategic Response at the Freedom from Religion Foundation.

This means a great deal to me because my ancestors, beginning in the 1730s, fled religious persecution in Germany and then the Netherlands and others still fled the United States to Canada.

There are currently only five copies of this title in the Indiana Evergreen comprised of about 117 libraries. So, it’s impact will not be very powerful.

The founders of our
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Krystina Schuler
Jul 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a must read for everyone and ought to be included in all ninth grade US history classes with an apology from the publishers of the elementary school versions we're fed as kids for the spin they put on colonial America and revolutionary America's past.

Seidel does an excellent job laying out the actual basis for the founding of America, using primary source material whenever possible, and why the idea of a US government resting on any sort of Jewish or Christian foundation is absurd.

Devo
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Matthew Christopher
Aug 07, 2019 rated it liked it
I have to say that I agree with a majority of this book. This is not now, now has it ever been, a "Christian nation." However, the gratuitous attacks on Christianity as a whole seemed completely unnecessary to the book's central argument, and also appeared to be mean-spirited attempts at evangelizing atheism. Additionally, Seidel appears to believe that fundamentalism evangelicals are representative of all Christian beliefs. This is extremely sloppy and the straight up dismissiveness of even the ...more
John Barry
Oct 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic read. Andrew Seidel (constitutional attorney) compares and contrasts the examples of Christian Nationalist examples that our nation was founded on Christian belief systems with the writings of the founding fathers, as well as the final US Constitution. Very well researched and written. He takes great care to contrast full biblical versus with full quotes from our founding fathers. And as another reader said, this could not have come at a better time with the lines perpetually blurred b ...more
Todd Martin
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of the speech, or of the press; or the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
- First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution (adopted December 15, 1791)

You may have encountered the claim that America is a ‘Christian Nation’ or its somewhat weaker corollary, that it was founded on ‘Judeo-Christian Principl
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Ron
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oliver Hunt
Apr 12, 2020 rated it it was ok
The first third of the book is informative and interesting, showing how the founding fathers weren’t building a specifically Christian nation, but were more likely theists, deists, atheists, and agnostics themselves. There’s lot of good information, thorough research, and compelling arguments made to prove that point, and I think it’s well written. 5 stars.

Then.... The rest of the book is an attempt to bash Christianity, and then try to loosely tie it to how un-Christian the Constitution and Bi
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Daniel Parker
Aug 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Phenomenal, well-researched book that gives the facts on the founding of America and the separation of church and state. Not for the faint of heart as it gets into detail on the effort to create certain myths and beliefs that we assume to be true. An excellent read for this time when fear and anxiety are strong and the attempt to undo what the founding fathers created are great.
David Todd
Nov 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Good book. The US was not founded on Judeo-Christian principles.
Jennifer Eckert
Jul 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Really well-written and researched. Very informative.
David
Oct 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Well researched and eminently accessible. Regrettable that it won’t find a larger audience, particularly among those making constitutional law.
Chuy Ruiz
Aug 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Definitely learned quite a bit. Very informative and illuminating. The main "flaw" with this book that I see is that it is not a general audience book, because I doubt a religious person can get through it and that's a shame, because they're the ones in most need of this knowledge. The rigorous examination of religious texts and comparing their ideas with those of the founding documents and historical evidence isn't something a fervent believer in the US being a Christian nation would probably c ...more
Jeff Rader
Apr 05, 2020 rated it did not like it
I don’t ever truly hate a book, but I have to say that this was awful. I am not a Christian Nationalist. I do not think that Christianity was part of the basis of our founding. But the author does not attack Christian nationalists, he attacks Christians. He spends about half of the book misunderstanding God and the overall message of the Bible. His style of argumentation is indicative of what is wrong with our public discourse. It’s ironic that he alluded to how the founders held out the importa ...more
John
Dec 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must read for everyone. Don't let this one slip by. If you care at all about your country, you owe it to yourself to read this book. ...more
Bill
Oct 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Simply stated, The Founding Myth is a book everyone should read. Seidel does a wonderful job in clearly showing how and why the United States was not founded on Christian principles, as is often asserted by Christian Nationalists. In fact, he shows the utter contradiction between the values laid down in the Bible and those written into our Constitution. Even his review of the Ten Commandments, often credited as the stones upon which law was built, shows a contrast between them and the sensibilit ...more
Christian Schwalbach
Sep 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is a rather politically expedient volume reminding the readers that the American project is one founded on a strong idea of separation of church and state, and the author uses a plethora of quotes and documents from the founders pens and mouths to build his case. In some sections , the book gets a bit bogged down in over-emphasising points, and could have been cut by a chapter or two, but I found that the sections dealing directly with the examination of the intention of the Founding f ...more
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75 likes · 21 comments
“There is no freedom of religion without a government that is free from religion.” 8 likes
“If you live in Denver or Austin, or near another Ten Commandments monument on public land, go and examine it. See if the full text of each commandment is carved into the stone. See if slavery is recognized, if women are considered chattel, and if the supposed pinnacle of morality punishes innocent children to the third and fourth generations. If the Ten Commandments were truly moral, there would be no need to edit these displays to fit today’s standards. Morality evolves. These edited monuments undercut the very claim they were set up to make. They are monuments to a lie.” 5 likes
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