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Endowed by Our Creator: The Birth of Religious Freedom in America [Kindle Edition]

Michael I. Meyerson
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The debate over the framers’ concept of freedom of religion has become heated and divisive. This scrupulously researched book sets aside the half-truths, omissions, and partisan arguments, and instead focuses on the actual writings and actions of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, and others. Legal scholar Michael I. Meyerson investigates how the framers of the Constitution envisioned religious freedom and how they intended it to operate in the new republic.

Endowed by Our Creator shows that the framers understood that the American government should not acknowledge religion in a way that favors any particular creed or denomination. Nevertheless, the framers believed that religion could instill virtue and help to unify a diverse nation. They created a spiritual public vocabulary, one that could communicate to all—including agnostics and atheists—that they were valued members of the political community. Through their writings and their decisions, the framers affirmed that respect for religious differences is a fundamental American value. Now it is for us, Meyerson concludes, to determine whether religion will be used to alienate and divide or to inspire and unify our religiously diverse nation.

Editorial Reviews


"A very fine examination of the role that religion, and religious conflict, has played in our American story. Artfully blending history and narrative, Meyerson breathes life into an often misunderstood story, examining the beliefs of our founders, and showing how those beliefs did not always determine their policy decisions . . . This is a wonderful book, a needed corrective to the heat that often defines the current debate."—Publishers Weekly
(Publishers Weekly)

"As Meyerson shows in this impressively researched book, each side of the sacred vs. secular camp can find ammunition to support its respective point of view. But he regards such partisan exercises as misleading at best and dangerous at worst. That's not because the Founders lacked a clear vision, he says, but rather because that vision was cast in terms of a union in which church and state—but not God and state, or religion and state—would be separate . . . . [The book is] written in clear, vigorous prose. It should be, and, with the aid of divine providence, is likely to be, durable."—History News Network
(History News Network)

"Endowed by Our Creator, an engaging volume on a timely issue, outlines a history that should inform the minds of all Americans, religious or not. This carefully researched study ... is both well documented and easy reading. . . . [An] engaging look at religious freedom’s beginnings…. The book would make for lively discussions for ecumenical or parish study groups, especially in the rather charged environment of election-year rhetoric."—Brother Jeffrey Gros, Catholic Telegraph (Catholic News Service)

"In this meticulously researched book devoid of the usual partisan bickering, Meyerson argues it's possible to protect both individual liberty and public religious expression, and he emerges with a strikingly balanced perspective on one of America's most hotly debated issues."—Christianity Today
(Christianity Today)

About the Author

Michael I. Meyerson is Wilson H. Elkins Professor of Law and Piper & Marbury Faculty Fellow, University of Baltimore School of Law. He is the author of Liberty's Blueprint, a history of the writing of the Federalist Papers. He lives in Ellicott City, MD.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2088 KB
  • Print Length: 383 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 030016632X
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (June 5, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007R5D3HS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,101,085 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Understanding the Origins of Religious Freedom December 4, 2012
This book is an in-depth and insightful look at the beginnings of religious freedom in America. Going all the way back to the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776, Meyerson helps readers see the original intent of the committee who drafted the declaration, namely, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. The birth of religious freedom arises out of three themes as depicted by the Great Seal: unity of the states, power of peace and war, and beginning of independence. Any "religious" symbols used are meant to be understood "allegorically" rather than "theologically," meaning that the birth of religious freedom is based on freedom for all, and not any particular interest group. The original draft of the Declaration has a level of sophistication and multi-faceted understanding, as well as a balanced viewpoint to bring together a complex society that is inclusive, not exclusive. So ingenious is it, that one can be religious and at the same time, be comfortable in supporting a separation of Church and state.One can be religious without imposing one's religion on another. One can be free to practice one's faith without fear of being suppressed by another belief that is different. That is why George Washington can be comfortable in using "non-sectarian" language to talk about religion or any other matters.

What are the circumstances that led to the framing of the Declaration of Independence? One big reason is widespread religious discrimination encountered during the early colonial states era. Catholics war against Protestants. Baptists and Quakers are despised by the powers in old Massachusetts. Power and politics even lead to change of names. For example, when the English took control of the state of New Amsterdam from the Dutch, they renamed the place New York.
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I highly recommend this well researched book about the nation's founders' thought on Religious Freedom in writing the First Amendment.
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8 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most important book this year! June 3, 2012
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Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If the truth sets you free, this book will have a major impact on the upcoming elections by shining a light on the original intent of our Founding Fathers to ensure religious equality and balance in the debate regarding the role of religion and faith in the civic society. Beautifully written and engaging. A must read for anyone concerned about the past, present and future of American society and politics.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars April 19, 2015
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Excellent in all aspects!
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solidly Researched, and Timely July 1, 2012
This book was well written and it's obvious the author did his research. If you have any interest in constitutional law, I suggest you pick up this book! Extremely timely given the current political climate.
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