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Religion and American Politics: From the Colonial Period to the Present Paperback – September 13, 2007

2.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Mark A. Noll (PhD, Vanderbilt University) is the Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. He is one of the nation's most distinguished practitioners of American religious history.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 520 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 2 edition (September 13, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195317157
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195317152
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 1.2 x 6.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #590,236 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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I used this book for my thesis, very thorough collection of essays on most of the religion topics.
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Format: Hardcover
I bought this book because I was given to understand Noll is one of the deans of the history of Christianity in the United States. I was given to understand that he is, first and foremost, a scholar, and the pursuit of truth makes him sometimes controversial (at least among Christians) for portraying that history in a light less than flattering to Christians. I can live with that, as I too prefer truth.

Of course Noll is only the editor of this particular volume, but he is solely responsible for what he included and excluded. The first essay is by John M. Murrin and treats religion and politics from the first settlements to the Civil War. Murrin's characterization of the faith-environment in early settlements is strictly true from the perspective Murrin offers, but is a gross falsehood when that same environment is viewed from a broader perspective. Murrin states, probably correctly, that, by and large, early settlers did not enjoy the religious liberty they are famed for having fled England in search of - choices of religious expression were probably limited it is true, but this is like arguing - as a communist might - that, There is no real political freedom in America since one's only real option for political expression in America is democracy.

Murrin caps his distorted perspective on the early settlements with this gem: "A mere half-century before the drafting of the Bill of Rights, a well-informed observer could not easily have detected in most of the American colonies much of the popular base for the active separation of church and state as proclaimed in the First Amendment." Today's well-informed observer will readily find the deep flaws in Murrin's analysis. First it presumes that "separating" church and state was the intention expressed in the First Amendment.
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