Separation of Church and State / Edition 1

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Overview

In a powerful challenge to conventional wisdom, Philip Hamburger argues that the separation of church and state has no historical foundation in the First Amendment. The detailed evidence assembled here shows that eighteenth-century Americans almost never invoked this principle. Although Thomas Jefferson and others retrospectively claimed that the First Amendment separated church and state, separation became part of American constitutional law only much later. Hamburger shows that separation became a constitutional freedom largely through fear and prejudice. Jefferson supported separation out of hostility to the Federalist clergy of New England. Nativist Protestants (ranging from nineteenth-century Know Nothings to twentieth-century members of the K.K.K.) adopted the principle of separation to restrict the role of Catholics in public life. Gradually, these Protestants were joined by theologically liberal, anti-Christian secularists, who hoped that separation would limit Christianity and all other distinct religions. Eventually, a wide range of men and women called for separation. Almost all of these Americans feared ecclesiastical authority, particularly that of the Catholic Church, and, in response to their fears, they increasingly perceived religious liberty to require a separation of church from state. American religious liberty was thus redefined and even transformed. In the process, the First Amendment was often used as an instrument of intolerance and discrimination.
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Editorial Reviews

Wall Street Journal
[Hamburger] devastates Jefferson's notion of a 'wall of separation' between religion and government, demonstrating that such a notion was utterly idiosyncratic at the time. Strict separation was revived by anti-Catholics in the 19th century and picked up by the court in the 20th, a development for which Justice Hugo Black bore much responsibility. The modern era of judicial hostility to organized religion and its symbols in the public square is directly contrary to what the Framers meant when they prohibited the establishment of religion. Though Mr. Hamburger does not trace the damage done by preposterous decisions in recent decades, this is a marvelous book.
— Robert Bork
Choice
This volume presents the fascinating and complex history of interpretations of the First Amendment in the U.S. and argues that the amendment's antiestablishment clause did not mandate separation of church and state. Instead, Hamburger insists that separation, an idea that may mean far more than the absence of establishment, became a constitutional freedom over an extended period of time, largely through fear and prejudice...Recommended.
— S. C. Pearson
Books and Culture
Hamburger has written an extremely important book. His prodigious learning and ingenious interpretations overturn the conventional wisdom, forcing even the most passionate defenders of separationism to recognize how much of the story of religious liberty has taken on mythical dimensions.
— Alan Wolfe
American Journal of Legal History
Separation of Church and State by Philip Hamburger is, perhaps, the most talked about treatise on American church-state relations of the last generation. It is a weighty, thoroughly researched tome that presents a nuanced, provocative thesis and that strikes even seasoned church-state scholars as distinctive from most works on the subject...Hamburger's fresh appraisal of the historical record adds much to our understanding of church-state separation...Few pages in this richly documented and cogently argued book fail to excite reflection or challenge long-held assumptions.
— Daniel Dreisbach
Stephen Prothero
Hamburger [explains] the `modern myth' of church-state separation was first popularized in the 1840s during debates about public education.
Wall Street Journal
Peter Steinfels
A book...in which the KKK plays a more prominent role than the ACLU is...to be noticed, and,...debated.
— The New York Times
Stanley N. Katz
Philip Hamburger has, simply, produced the best and most important book ever written on the subject of the separation of church and state in the United States. He has laid to rest the historical credentials of the Jeffersonian myth of the "wall of separation," and shown how the notion of separation gained wide acceptance in the nineteenth century primarily due to the pervasiveness of American anti-Catholicism. He has also destroyed the notion that separation is the only alternative to the union of church and state, and demonstrated that acceptance of separation has in fact undermined the vitality of our original anti-establishment notions of religious freedom. Hamburger underplays the current constitutional implications of his historical arguments, but it is clear that this book will have a profound impact on the current law and politics of church and state.
Daniel L. Dreisbach
This richly documented and cogently argued book challenges conventional interpretations of separation of church and state as a constitutional standard in American history and promises to reshape the debate on the constitutional and prudential relations between religion and American public life.
Choice - S. C. Pearson
This volume presents the fascinating and complex history of interpretations of the First Amendment in the U.S. and argues that the amendment's antiestablishment clause did not mandate separation of church and state. Instead, Hamburger insists that separation, an idea that may mean far more than the absence of establishment, became a constitutional freedom over an extended period of time, largely through fear and prejudice...Recommended.
Books and Culture - Alan Wolfe
Hamburger has written an extremely important book. His prodigious learning and ingenious interpretations overturn the conventional wisdom, forcing even the most passionate defenders of separationism to recognize how much of the story of religious liberty has taken on mythical dimensions.
Wall Street Journal - Robert Bork
[Hamburger] devastates Jefferson's notion of a 'wall of separation' between religion and government, demonstrating that such a notion was utterly idiosyncratic at the time. Strict separation was revived by anti-Catholics in the 19th century and picked up by the court in the 20th, a development for which Justice Hugo Black bore much responsibility. The modern era of judicial hostility to organized religion and its symbols in the public square is directly contrary to what the Framers meant when they prohibited the establishment of religion. Though Mr. Hamburger does not trace the damage done by preposterous decisions in recent decades, this is a marvelous book.
American Journal of Legal History - Daniel Dreisbach
Separation of Church and State by Philip Hamburger is, perhaps, the most talked about treatise on American church-state relations of the last generation. It is a weighty, thoroughly researched tome that presents a nuanced, provocative thesis and that strikes even seasoned church-state scholars as distinctive from most works on the subject...Hamburger's fresh appraisal of the historical record adds much to our understanding of church-state separation...Few pages in this richly documented and cogently argued book fail to excite reflection or challenge long-held assumptions.
Choice

This volume presents the fascinating and complex history of interpretations of the First Amendment in the U.S. and argues that the amendment's antiestablishment clause did not mandate separation of church and state. Instead, Hamburger insists that separation, an idea that may mean far more than the absence of establishment, became a constitutional freedom over an extended period of time, largely through fear and prejudice...Recommended.
— S. C. Pearson

Books and Culture

Hamburger has written an extremely important book. His prodigious learning and ingenious interpretations overturn the conventional wisdom, forcing even the most passionate defenders of separationism to recognize how much of the story of religious liberty has taken on mythical dimensions.
— Alan Wolfe

Wall Street Journal

[Hamburger] devastates Jefferson's notion of a 'wall of separation' between religion and government, demonstrating that such a notion was utterly idiosyncratic at the time. Strict separation was revived by anti-Catholics in the 19th century and picked up by the court in the 20th, a development for which Justice Hugo Black bore much responsibility. The modern era of judicial hostility to organized religion and its symbols in the public square is directly contrary to what the Framers meant when they prohibited the establishment of religion. Though Mr. Hamburger does not trace the damage done by preposterous decisions in recent decades, this is a marvelous book.
— Robert Bork

American Journal of Legal History

Separation of Church and State by Philip Hamburger is, perhaps, the most talked about treatise on American church-state relations of the last generation. It is a weighty, thoroughly researched tome that presents a nuanced, provocative thesis and that strikes even seasoned church-state scholars as distinctive from most works on the subject...Hamburger's fresh appraisal of the historical record adds much to our understanding of church-state separation...Few pages in this richly documented and cogently argued book fail to excite reflection or challenge long-held assumptions.
— Daniel Dreisbach

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674007345
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/2002
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 528
  • Product dimensions: 6.62 (w) x 9.64 (h) x 1.58 (d)

Meet the Author

Philip Hamburger is Maurice and Hilda Friedman Professor of Law at the Columbia Law School.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
I Late Eighteenth-Century Religious Liberty 19
1 Separation, Purity, and Anticlericalism 21
2 Accusations of Separation 65
3 The Exclusion of the Clergy 79
4 Freedom from Religious Establishments 89
II Early Nineteenth-Century Republicanism 109
5 Demands for Separation: Separating Federalist Clergy from Republican Politics 111
6 Keeping Religion Out of Politics and Making Politics Religious 130
7 Jefferson and the Baptists: Separation Proposed and Ignored as a Constitutional Principle 144
III Mid-Nineteenth-Century Americanism 191
8 A Theologically Liberal, Anti-Catholic, and American Principle 193
9 Separations in Society 252
10 Clerical Doubts and Popular Protestant Support 268
IV Late Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Constitutional Law 285
11 Amendment 287
12 Interpretation 335
13 Differences 360
14 An American Constitutional Right 391
Conclusion 479
Index 493
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2003

    Separation of Church and State

    Erudite, well-researched and pithy, Hamburger traces the history of the 'separation of church and state' controversy in this copiously documented and definitive work. Hamburger does a wonderful job in proving the first amendment to mean exactly what it says, and, instead of playing the historical relativist in support of the amendment impying the separation of church and state, shows that our founding fathers sought (through the first amendment) to disempower the established churches in early America. Hamburger also persuasivly documents how anti-Catholic nativism of the 19th and early 20th centuries did much to force the false idea that separation was guaranteed within the constitution in an effort to disenfranchise the feared Catholics. A must read! A veritable tour de force!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2003

    Invaluable Refutation of Pseudohistory of Jefferson's Position on Religious Liberty

    The judicial pseudohistory of Thomas Jefferson's views, and indeed, his misrepresented role in First Amendment history are nothing less than scandalous intellectual dishonesty disguised as law. Phillip Hamburger's research helps to render this spurious 'legal research' untenable. Jefferson certainly opposed ESTABLISHED religion of any kind, but he was a nonpreferentialist who would be appalled at today's judicial misrepresentations of his actual positions on religious liberty. Three of his four quotes inside the dome of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial make reference to God. His chuch attendence on public property, his great fondness of the Baptists, his provision for a Catholic church and priest in an Indian treaty, and many other public actions are in complete contrast to the judicial caricature of him in prevelant jurisprudence. If truth and intellectual honesty matter one whit, Phillip Hamburger's volume belongs in the bibliography of any serious study of Thomas Jefferson and his views on religious freedom.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2003

    Separation of Church and State

    The 'History Professor' obviously did not read the book, for he would have noticed right off that Hamburger has put together a compelling, pithy argument for understanding how the interpretation of the first amendment has evolved over time. He is further incorrect in asserting that the founding fathers wanted a 'separation' as we understand its meaning today. Hamburger fully contextualizes his arguments: established vs. disestablished churches, protestantism vs. catholicism, humanistic deism vs. illiberal christianity. This book is erudite, well-footnoted and researched, and a must read for all who believe that the 'separation of church and state' is a given. Just read the first amendment and interpret it yourself -- isn't it plausible that it only intended to outlaw state established religion? This book is a whirlwind historical tour of a currently important topic.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2003

    Our Founding Fathers Intended Church and State to be Separate

    One only needs to read the speeches of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison to know they all were very passionate about separating the church from the state. The author of this book has evidently not read the many letters written by our founding fathers. James Madison said in a speech in 1803: 'The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries.'

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