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No phrase in American letters has had a more profound influence on church-state law, policy, and discourse than Thomas Jefferson’s “wall of separation between church and state,” and few metaphors have provoked more passionate debate. Introduced in an 1802 letter to the Danbury, Connecticut Baptist Association, Jefferson’s “wall” is accepted by many Americans as a concise description of the U.S. Constitution’s church-state arrangement and conceived as a virtual rule of ...
No phrase in American letters has had a more profound influence on church-state law, policy, and discourse than Thomas Jefferson’s “wall of separation between church and state,” and few metaphors have provoked more passionate debate. Introduced in an 1802 letter to the Danbury, Connecticut Baptist Association, Jefferson’s “wall” is accepted by many Americans as a concise description of the U.S. Constitution’s church-state arrangement and conceived as a virtual rule of constitutional law.
Despite the enormous influence of the “wall” metaphor, almost no scholarship has investigated the text of the Danbury letter, the context in which it was written, or Jefferson’s understanding of his famous phrase. Thomas Jefferson and the Wall of Separation Between Church and State offers an in-depth examination of the origins, controversial uses, and competing interpretations of this powerful metaphor in law and public policy.
“In the opinion of this reviewer, Dreisbach is undeniably correct. His research is thorough, and his analysis comports with the history of the period. Dreisbach’s study of Jefferson's likely meaning when he utilized the phrase “wall of separation” makes a valuable contribution to an important area of the constitutional law, an area of great consequence to Christians. The fact that it is written by a law professor at a "top twenty" law school increases its significance and credibility in the scholar world. The book has a minimum of legal jargon and can easily be understood. Daniel Dreisbach’s book is highly recommended.”
-Faith and Mission
“Excellent introduction to the thorny interpretive issues that continue to grow around Jefferson's wall.”
-The Journal of Southern History
“This book is vintage Dreisbach. . . . Anyone studying Jefferson's views of separation would be wise to use Dreisbach’s primary texts and to ponder his sage interpretation of them. This is a book that can be read in an evening, but pondered for a career.”
-John Witte Jr.,Michigan Law Review
“On an evaluative note, the book is helpful for gaining an understanding of the historical context of Jefferson’s metaphor.”
-Journal of Church and State
“Daniel Dreisbach’s book is a welcome and much needed addition to the scholarship on the First Amendment. Dreisbach analysis of Jefferson's metaphor, its political context, and consequences for church-state jurisprudence, provide an intellectual perspective as the Court and nation reconsider issues of accomodations of religion in the public square.”
-Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies
|1||Introduction: The Creation of an American Metaphor||1|
|2||The President, a Mammoth Cheese, and the "Wall of Separation": Jeffersonian Politics and the New England Baptists||9|
|3||"Sowing Useful Truths and Principles": Thomas Jefferson and the Danbury Baptist Association||25|
|4||"What the Wall Separates": A Jurisdictional Interpretation of the "Wall of Separation"||55|
|5||Early References to a "Wall of Separation": Prefiguring the Jeffersonian Metaphor||71|
|6||Creating "Effectual Barriers": Alternative Metaphors in Defense of Religious Liberty||83|
|7||"Useful Truths and Principles ... Germinate and Become Rooted" in the American Mind: Jefferson's Metaphor Enters Political and Juridical Discourse||95|
|8||Conclusion: The Re-Creation of Church-State Law, Policy, and Discourse||107|
|App||Documents from the Papers of Thomas Jefferson||129|
|About the Author||283|