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From the Publisher“This slender volume offers a brilliant survey of the events, ideas, and personalities that shaped America's distinctive approach to church-state relations. With uncommon clarity, keen insights, and illuminating anecdotes, James H. Hutson recounts the complicated, but inspiring story of the development of religious liberty in North America. Few stories in history are more important and more deserving of our attention.” -Daniel L. Dreisbach, professor, American University and author of Thomas Jefferson and the Wall of Separation between Church and State.
“In many ways, the story of America is a tale of the long and tortuous struggle to define and defend the rights of conscience: religious liberty as America’s ‘first freedom.’ In Church and State in America, Jim Hutson constructs this narrative—‘one of the miracles of the age’—with profound insight and meticulous scholarship. He has the historian’s gift for uncovering the forgotten anecdotes, animosities, proclamations, and lamentations that enlighten our understanding of the past and offer wisdom to confront the contemporary challenges to freedom. A very timely and engaging piece of work.” -Joseph Loconte, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and commentator on religion and politics for National Public Radio.
“The signal contribution of this book is to show that, while the American Revolution and American Constitution did alter some inherited wisdom on church-state connections, they also left a great deal from earlier centuries unchanged. James Hutson's reading of the founding era and what lead up to it calls into question a great deal of conventional wisdom, but does so in the most productive way—through painstakingly careful attention to specific historical evidence.” -Mark Noll, University of Notre Dame
“This richly textured and text-filled study tells the unique American story of church and state. Moving beyond modern clichés about a wall of separation, Hutson shows that America's founders regarded religion and the church as vital to politics and the state, so long as both remained freely chosen and freely exercised. Meticulously researched and masterfully narrated, James Hutson's latest offering has all the earmarks of a classic in the making.” -John Witte, Jr., Director of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion, Emory University
"Hutson's prose, research, and analysis are solid throughout, but his succinct treatment of all seventeenth-century English colonies is especially noteworthy...his nuanced description of both Great Awakenings' impact on church-state relations is unique and helpful. Most of all Hutson's work in praiseworthy because it sheds light convincingly on a contemporary topic without being overtly present minded." —Canadian Journal of History