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Church, State, and Original Intent Hardcover – November 23, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0521119184 ISBN-10: 0521119189 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 382 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (November 23, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521119189
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521119184
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,471,054 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"In his splendid new book, Donald Drakeman storms into the breach once more with the provocative thesis that the Supreme Court's rendition of the establishment clause has largely been a story of creation-myth making....Drakeman goes further, arguing that the interpretive schools of accommodationist nonpreferentialism, strict separationism, and enhanced federalist jurisdictionalism each misunderstand the establishment clause. So he invites us to accompany him on an investigation, as objective as possible, of the historical record, which he argues indicates that the establishment clause was originally understood simply to forbid the establishment of a national church....If in the beginning we were promised an investigation, we actually end up with a tour de force-an insightful discussion of landmark cases and a lucid, disinterested narrative of the historical materials."
- Kody W. Cooper, Review of Politics

"To a crowded field of scholarship Don Drakeman has contributed a real gem. His Church, State, and Original Intent is expertly researched. Drakeman has found some new and intriguing clues to the original understanding of the Religion Clauses. He also offers fresh and persuasive interpretations of familiar evidence. And the book is a great read; Drakeman is a gifted story-teller."
-Gerard Bradley, University of Notre Dame

"No provision of the U.S. Constitution, the Supreme Court has said, is more illuminated by its generating history than the First Amendment prohibition on laws 'respecting an establishment of religion.' Without a partisan agenda, Donald L. Drakeman thoughtfully, thoroughly, and expertly revisits the original meaning of the prohibition on a national establishment, pursuing new lines of inquiry, delving into long forgotten or ignored evidence, and challenging long-held assumptions. He casts new light on the historians and historical accounts that have influenced the Court's interpretation of the constitutional provisions governing church-state relationships. Church, State, and Original Intent is indispensable reading for anyone interested in religious liberty or church-state relations in the American experience."
-Daniel L. Dreisbach, American University and author of Thomas Jefferson and the Wall of Separation Between Church and State

"For too long, an incomplete narrative has shaped - and misshaped - the Supreme Court's doctrines and our public conversations about the First Amendment's Establishment Clause. In this book, Donald Drakeman provides a timely and thorough corrective to that narrative. He carefully scrapes away the political agendas, ideological commitments, and 'law office history' that have too often obscured from view the Clause's original meaning. Drakeman's project, therefore, is both provocative and liberating: He unsettles our many unfounded assumptions and, by helping us to see the First Amendment clearly and in context, he challenges us to re-think that provision's place in our continuing debates about the proper relationship between church and state."
-Richard W. Garnett, University of Notre Dame Law School

"This devastating critique of the Supreme Court's use of history should be read by everyone concerned with religious freedom in particular and jurisprudence in general. Through meticulous original research, Drakeman exposes the anti-Catholic foundation of the Court's 'wall of separation' between church and state. His provocative account of the Court's seminal church-state decisions and his thoughtful interpretation of the Establishment Clause's original meaning will engage church-state scholars and enlighten all those interested in American constitutional history."
-Vincent Phillip Muñoz, University of Notre Dame

Book Description

This provocative book shows how the justices of the United States Supreme Court have used constitutional history, portraying the Framers' actions in a light favoring their own views about how church and state should be separated. Drakeman examines church-state constitutional controversies from the Founding Era to the present, arguing that the Framers originally intended the establishment clause only as a prohibition against a single national church.

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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By John C. Lang on January 6, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Church, State, and Original IntentThis book provides a clear understanding of how historical analysis of the thinking behind the wall of separation between church and state occurred through Supreme Court decisions over the last sixty-five years. Drakeman documents the opinions and the influence various historians had upon the thinking of Supreme Court justices. It is a fascinating book that provides insight as to the broad interpretation that has followed a Constitutional protection that the founding fathers intended to ban a government mandated religion while providing the individual rights to practice religion as he or she felt was proper. Drakeman traces the erosion of this right over a series of Supreme Court decisions and suggests that we find ourselves in an increasingly restricted interpretation as to what role government can play in support of religious practice without interfering with individual rights to exercise secular humanism, if that is their choice. What started as an attempt, sparked by the Virginia delegation of Jefferson and Madison, to protect the new republic from being subjected to a government dictated religious practice, similar to the Church of England at the time, has grown into a series of restrictions barring prayer in public school settings, displays of religious observance at holidays, and removal of items as the Ten Commandments from public government settings, such as schoolhouses and courthouses. Drakeman presents a cogent, engaging and well documented attack on these opinions, citing the case for misinterpretation of the founding father's goals resulting in restrictions never contemplated by our Constitution. This is a must read for anyone interested in religious freedoms or erosion of Constitutional freedoms.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Robert Ryan on April 28, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Exhaustively researched, meticulously footnoted, clearly and cogently written, Don Drakeman's book accomplishes the extremely difficult and seldom accomplished feat of thoroughly exploring what is both an extremely esoteric and inherently controversial nook in the cluttered closet of American jurisprudential historiography without dragging along his own ponderous axe desperately in need of grinding. In other words, actually the words of Sgt. Friday, - "Just the facts, ma'am." As has been often said, you're entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts. This book details how the historical background of the Separation Clause have been bent, twisted, ignored, inflated, conflated and confounded in two hundred years of judicial decisions and parochial (in several senses) scholarship. At the end of the day, Mr. Drakeman's combination of rigorous scholarship and all too uncommon common-sense analysis decisively undercuts any future attempts to build church/state separation edifices on a historical foundation of strawless bricks.

Not a light summer read, for sure, but a book worthy of the effort required to comprehend it.
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