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First Freedom First: A Citizen's Guide to Protecting Religious Liberty and the Separation of Church and State Paperback – April 1, 2008

4 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"This is a book for every American. Gaddy and Lynn have provided us with a volume that informs and challenges, as well as inspires and guides us, on issues of vital importance—our founding fathers' vision for religious liberty and their constitutional guarantee of separation of church and state."—Walter Cronkite

"If we forsake our freedom of religion, it's not the kind of thing we can ask nicely to have returned to us when we realize later how much we need it. First Freedom First explains why we ought to avoid this mistake, but, crucially, also how to avoid it—how respect for the First Amendment can unify even the most disparate elements in America's spiritual life."—Rachel Maddow, Air America Radio

About the Author

Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy is the president of The Interfaith Alliance and host of State of Belief, a national radio show. He resides in Monroe, Louisiana, and Alexandria, Virginia. Rev. Barry W. Lynn is the executive director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State; he lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland. First Freedom First is a partnership of their two organizations.

The Rev. Barry W. Lynn is executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State in Washington, D.C.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 188 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press (April 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807042242
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807042243
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,360,494 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Bryan Carey VINE VOICE on April 21, 2008
Format: Paperback
Freedom of religion is a fundamental right that many consider the most important of the rights specifically mentioned in the U.S. Constitution. Two men who are fervent believers in the importance of religious freedom are Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy and Rev. Barry Lynn. These two men are Constitutional crusaders who joined forces to produce this book, with contributions that include political/activist information as well as historical facts and legal analysis of the church state issue; where it presently stands and where it is headed.

First Freedom First opens with a pronouncement stressing the present crisis that religious freedom faces as the various factions of the Religious Right continue to erode religious freedom and continue to push the nation slowly toward a more theocratic form of government. Once the book has grabbed the reader's full attention in the introduction, it proceeds to talk about the issue of religious freedom complete with historical perspectives on religious freedom; the politicization of religion by certain groups; the debunking of popular church/state separation myths; the different ways that the Religious Right has tried to change the interpretation of the U.S. Constitution; and the importance of protecting the integrity of religion by keeping it beyond the reach of government control. Gaddy writes convincingly as he confronts the common falsehoods surrounding the meaning of the First Amendment and as he offers different means to promote religion by keeping it out of the political realm.

Lynn's part of the book is only slightly different.
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Format: Paperback
This book is admittedly written from a left leaning group, Americans United. But with that bias, it does examine closely the history of the separation of church and state through the major cases that were decided at the Supreme Court. It also goes through and invalidates the majority (if not all) the arguments that the religious right makes to try to get more religion into the laws and schools. It also makes excellent arguments on why there should be separation of church and state and explains why if there is no separation, both church and state would suffer and become weaker.

This book is very anti religious right and anti George W. Bush and his administration, so be forewarned.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I bought this book in order to better understand the separation of church and state in rhe Constitution. Also, to have better insight as to how to rebuff people who try and tell me that the USA is a Christian nation and therefore their religious beliefs should be the only one that counts. The book did not let me down. It is an incredible source of information that is well researched, well written and easy to read and understand.

I only wish I could attend Rev. Gaddy's church services.
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Format: Paperback
The thesis of "First Freedom First," by the Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy and the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, is that it is important to maintain the constitutional separation of church and state. And this is a position which merits agreement from me. But in it, the Religious Right is castigated with the following words on p. xxvi of the Introduction:

"The Religious Right claims an interest in recovering morality in America by seeking to outlaw all abortions, stem cell research, gay rights, and same-sex unions while advocating the teaching of religious doctrine as sound science. They also advocate, through a system of school vouchers often lauded as a way to help the poor, providing public tax dollars for the funding of public parochial schools. In recent years, the Religious Right has been loud in its advocacy for advancing the president's faith-based initiatives, displaying the Ten Commandments in public buildings, teaching the Bible in public schools, electing 'God-chosen' leaders to public offices, and supporting the president of the United States in sopeaking and acting as the chief religious leader of the nation. However, the Religious Right has been strangely silent on the war in Iraq, increases in the numbers of people without adequate medical care and health insurance, the torture of prisoners, ... [I leave out the rest of this sentence, because it is really the part I quote here that I want to address]"

When I read the first two of these sentences, I was willing to accept what Gaddy (the author of this introduction) says. But then I hit the next two sentences.
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