Religion and the Continental Congress, 1774-1789: Contributions to Original Intent [NOOK Book]

Overview

How did the constitutional framers envision the role of religion in American public life? Did they think that the government had the right to advance or support religion and religious activities? Or did they believe that the two realms should remain forever separate? Throughout American history, scholars, Supreme Court justices, and members of the American public have debated these questions. The debate continues to have significance in the present day, especially in regard to public schools, government aid to ...
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Religion and the Continental Congress, 1774-1789: Contributions to Original Intent

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Overview

How did the constitutional framers envision the role of religion in American public life? Did they think that the government had the right to advance or support religion and religious activities? Or did they believe that the two realms should remain forever separate? Throughout American history, scholars, Supreme Court justices, and members of the American public have debated these questions. The debate continues to have significance in the present day, especially in regard to public schools, government aid to sectarian education, and the use of public property for religious symbols.
In this book, Derek Hamilton Davis offers the first comprehensive examination of the role of religion in the proceedings, theories, ideas, and goals of the Continental Congress. Those who argue that the United States was founded as a "Christian Nation" have made much of the religiosity of the founders, particularly as it was manifested in the ritual invocations of a clearly Christian God as well as in the adoption of practices such as government-sanctioned days of fasting and thanksgiving, prayers and preaching before legislative bodies, and the appointments of chaplains to the Army.
Davis looks at the fifteen-year experience of the Continental Congress (1774-1789) and arrives at a contrary conclusion: namely, that the revolutionaries did not seek to entrench religion in the federal state. Congress's religious activities, he shows, expressed a genuine but often unreflective popular piety. Indeed, the whole point of the revolution was to distinguish society, the people in its sovereign majesty, from its government. A religious people would jealously guard its own sovereignty and the sovereignty ofGod by preventing republican rulers from pretending to any authority over religion. The idea that a modern nation could be premised on expressly theological foundations, Davis argues, was utterly antithetical to the thinking of most revolutionaries.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195350883
  • Publisher: NetLibrary, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/4/2000
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 604 KB

Meet the Author


Derek Hamilton-Davis is Director of the J.M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Relations at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, which offers M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Church-State Studies. He is also the Editor of Journal of Church and State.

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Table of Contents

1 Original Intent as a Basis for Constitutional Interpretation 3
2 The Political Status of Religion in the Founding Era 25
3 Religion and the American Revolution 39
4 A Summary View of Politics and Religion in the Continental Congress 57
5 Chaplaincies and Days of Religious Observance under the Continental Congress 73
6 Religious Dimensions of the Declaration of Independence 95
7 Religion and Federalism during the Confederation Period 117
8 A National Seal and a (National?) Bible 137
9 The Continental Congress and Religious Liberty 151
10 Virtue and the Continental Congress 175
11 The Continental Congress, Original Intent, and Modern Constitutional Adjudication 199
App. A 231
App. B 239
Notes 247
Bibliography 285
Index 303
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