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ISBN-10:
1558496386
ISBN-13:
9781558496385
Pub. Date:
02/13/2008
Publisher:
University of Massachusetts Press
ISBN-10:
1558496386
ISBN-13:
9781558496385
Pub. Date:
02/13/2008
Publisher:
University of Massachusetts Press
Religious Liberty in America: The First Amendment in Historical and Contemporary Perspective

Religious Liberty in America: The First Amendment in Historical and Contemporary Perspective

by Bruce T. Murray Bruce T. Murray

Paperback

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Overview

In recent years a series of highly publicized controversies has focused attention on what are arguably the sixteen most important words in the U.S. Constitution: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." The ongoing court battles over the inclusion of the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, the now annual cultural quarrel over "Merry Christmas" vs. "Happy Holidays," and the political promotion of "faith-based initiatives" to address social problems—all reflect competing views of the meaning of the religious liberty clauses of the First Amendment.

Such disputes, as Bruce T. Murray shows, are nothing new. For more than two hundred years Americans have disagreed about the proper role of religion in public life and where to draw the line between church and state. In this book, he reexamines these debates and distills the volumes of commentary and case law they have generated. He analyzes not only the changing contours of religious freedom but also the phenomenon of American civil religion, grounded in the notion that the nation's purpose is sanctified by a higher authority—an idea that can be traced back to the earliest New England colonists and remains deeply ingrained in the American psyche.

Throughout the book, Murray connects past and present, tracing the historical roots of contemporary controversies. He considers why it is that a country founded on the separation of church and state remains singularly religious among nations, and concludes by showing how the Supreme Court's thinking about the religious liberty clauses has evolved since the late eighteenth century.


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781558496385
Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press
Publication date: 02/13/2008
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 232
Product dimensions: (w) x (h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Bruce T. Murray is an educational writer. Please visit his website: http://www.websage.us/

What People are Saying About This

Philip Goff

Bruce Murray seeks to lay out historically and conceptually the issues behind the two religious liberty clauses in the First Amendment. In doing so, he introduces and traces such significant topics as the development of religious pluralism and its ironic counterpart, civil religion. Nowhere is there such a clear and concise explanation of these issues as Murray offers in this book.

From the Publisher

Murray deserves praise for his success as a narrator who seems to simply tap into the historical record and subsequently search out insight form reputable scholars. For an introduction and overview of the subfield of religious liberty in America, this work provides sufficient depth and for those interested, stimulates questions for further research.

University of Massachusetts Press

G.H. Shriver

This book is a splendid presentation of the First Amendment - with civil religion as a parallel theme - especially as presently related to so many issues in American political and religious life. Other books on these issues have been appearing of late, but none as clear and thorough as this one.

Customer Reviews