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The First Liberty: Religion and the American Republic

The First Liberty: Religion and the American Republic

by William Lee Miller

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Scheduled for publication on the bicentennial of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, precursor of the First Amendment, this exploration of the role of government with regard to religious pluralism examines the constitutional roots of a uniquely American concept, and the history of a perennially heated debate. Miller, communications professor at the University of Virginia and author of The Protestant and Politics, Piety Along the Potomac, etc., emphasizes the pivotal importance of Roger Williams and James Madison in shaping the role of public virtue as a secular equivalent of a state religion. The author successfully conveys the personalities of these early legislators. Their passionate debates and tenacity, in Miller's view, established this first right as well as a climate of contention that remains fierce in our own day. January 16
Library Journal - Library Journal
Miller chronicles some critical episodes in the shaping of our religious history. He begins in 1776 Virginia, with George Mason's draft of the Declaration of Rights and the great collaboration of Jefferson and Madison in the cause of religious freedom, and then proceeds to Jefferson's efforts in Virginia's House of Delegates and Bill #82 ``concerning religious freedom.'' But it is Madison's contributions that are central, and Miller, noting the ``undeserved dimness of his star,'' offers unstinting praisefor the Memorial and Remonstrance , the struggle against Patrick Henry's tax assessment measure, the fight for the First Amendment. Present-minded and wide-ranging, Miller also discusses relevant court cases after 1947, takes on Frankfurter, affirms civil disobedienceand sustains a rich argument with grace, panache, and exactitude. Milton Cantor, Univ. of Massachusetts, Amherst

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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1st ed

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