American Jews and the Separationist Faith: The New Debate on Religion in Public Life by David G. Dalin, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
American Jews and the Separationist Faith: The New Debate on Religion in Public Life

American Jews and the Separationist Faith: The New Debate on Religion in Public Life

by David G. Dalin
     
 
During the past half century, most American Jews have believed that religion should be rigorously separated from public life: the more thoroughly secular the society, the safer it is for Jews. But now, many are having second thoughts. Jewish leaders are increasingly arguing for "equal time" and "equal protection" in laws and for government policies that

Overview

During the past half century, most American Jews have believed that religion should be rigorously separated from public life: the more thoroughly secular the society, the safer it is for Jews. But now, many are having second thoughts. Jewish leaders are increasingly arguing for "equal time" and "equal protection" in laws and for government policies that encourage free exercise of religion rather than simply preventing its establishment. Forty Jewish writers, professors lawyers, rabbis, and policy analysts here offer widely varying perspectives on what the role of religion in American public life should be, and describe how, if at all, their opinion has changed. Among the contributors are Hadley Arkes, Jerold S. Auerbach, Midge Decter, Abraham Foxman, Joshua Haberman, Milton Himmelfarb, Michael Lerner, Alan Mittleman, David Novak, Cynthia Ozick, Dennis Prager, Earl Raab, Marc D. Stern, Aaron Wildavsky, and Ruth R. Wisse.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
What role should religion play in American public life? Until recent times, American Jewry has almost unanimously supported the ``broad interpretation'' of the First Amendment's establishment clause by advocating a rigid separation or ``wall'' between religion and the state. A major example of this thinking would be the ``naked public square'' (i.e., no creches or Hanukah menorahs on public display anywhere). Some Jewish groups are now rethinking this absolutist concept because of their concern with the rapidly growing secularization and ``paganism'' of contemporary American society. This provocative collection of essays, edited by rabbi-historian Dalin, presents the views, pro and con, of 38 prominent American Jewish intellectuals on this explosive issue. Surprisingly, several of these contributors present cogent arguments favoring a less rigid interpretation of the establishment clause. This excellent anthology is recommended for large collections.-- Robert A. Silver, Shaker Heights P.L., Ohio
Mary Carroll
The issues at the heart of this collection are of critical concern not just to American Jews but to all Americans. What "does" the Constitution's First Amendment mean? Is there, as Earl Raab of Brandeis University suggests, a "constant tension" between the establishment clause and the free exercise clause? What is the effect of the "wall of separation" interpretation supported by most mainstream Jewish organizations since the 1947 "Everson" v. "Board of Education" decision? Does this "wall" protect all religious minorities--or subject Jews as well as Christians to an "established" religion variously identified as liberalism, secular humanism, paganism, or irreligion? Can a society which "privatizes" religion articulate a coherent moral vision and offer meaningful ethical education to the young? Most contributors feel the U.S. should reject strict "separationism," but others defend "the wall": academics and American Jewish Committee attorneys, on philosophical and constitutional grounds; novelist Cynthia Ozick, because of her memories of the coercive Christianity she experienced in the public schools she attended before "Everson". At a time when vouchers are a popular political panacea, Dalin's challenging and stimulating although less than balanced collection of Jewish opinion on these issues demonstrates for readers of all credos the practical consequences of seemingly abstract constitutional conflicts.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780896331761
Publisher:
Ethics & Public Policy Center
Publication date:
06/01/1992
Pages:
169
Product dimensions:
6.24(w) x 9.29(h) x 0.91(d)

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >