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So Help Me God: The Founding Fathers and the First Great Battle Over Church and State Paperback – Bargain Price, September 8, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
* Only Adams was a church-goer all his life. Washington, Jefferson, and Madison attended church when living in the White House, seldom otherwise. Monroe didn't go even when he was President. They all doubted the divinity of Christ but all utilized a semblance of faith when it fit their agenda. From the onset in American politics, religion ended up being manipulated for political gain.
* Washington scrupulously avoided the slightest hint of religious favoritism and would not abide any sectarian interference in the affairs of state. By the end of his second term, established church leaders were openly disenchanted with his ambiguous religious posture. He probably did say "So help me God" at his inauguration.
* There would have been no Bill of Rights if it weren't for the Danbury Baptists of Connecticut. Madison and others thought a Bill of Rights was redundant but he needed their support for ratification of the Constitution. In exchange, he presented and fought for a Bill of Rights in the new Congress.
* The Federalist party (mainly northern) was a coalition between those who wanted a strong federal government and the existing controlling Christian denominations (Presbyterians, Unitarians, Congregationalists, Anglicans).Read more ›
What I like the most is the way F. Church, with a stroke of his pen, vividly depicts the first five American President's religious stands, often making interesting parallels between them . E.g.:
Washington. Just how religious was George Washington? The short answer is: "Not very" . He had much of the principle, little of the sentiment of religion. He was more moral than pious.
John Adams. The Protestant ethic was bred in his bone. He didn't think like a true believer but he felt like a true believer.
Thomas Jefferson. If Adams was skeptical about almost everything, Jefferson worshiped just as doggedly at the altar of reason and progress. He was a fundamentalist of the left, inflexible in his fidelity to rational religion. However, as devoted as Jefferson was to church-state separation, religion and politics mixed freely in Washington throughout his administration.
James Madison. Jefferson supported freedom of religion to protect the state from the church but also to free mind from the state while Madison sought to protect the state from the church by encouraging sectarian competition and seems to have been a reverent agnostic (in the gentlest sense of the word, i.e.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
What would our founding fathers say if they were here now?Published 6 months ago by Jane Volchansky
I reviewed the comments and read the first pages of this book. I would like to correct a misconception of the phrase "So Help me God. Read morePublished 16 months ago by James A Osse
I started to read this book since it was interesting to me to know about religion and the foundation of the United States. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Jorge I. Villanueva
This wasn't really what I was expecting. I thought it was going to focus on the story of how we got the Bill of Rights, but it's really a much broader study of religion in the... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Becca Bee
This text is required reading for a class I teach on the "Separation of Church and State" through SUNY Empire State.Published on February 23, 2013 by Ralph S. English
Great read! Forest Church was a great writer of early American religious history and a great UU Pastor. He will be missed.Published on December 29, 2012 by jlidstrom
In today's culture wars, the Christian Right like to claim that America was founded as a Christian nation; to which the Left (Christian and otherwise) replies, "No way! Read morePublished on January 6, 2011 by Mark E. Miller
I just finished reading SO HELP ME GOD and have already begun a second read-through. I am so excited by what I've read. Read morePublished on March 15, 2008 by David E. Grimm
Church has given us an excellent description and analysis of the stances on religion of the first presidents of the US, from Washington through Monroe. Read morePublished on January 13, 2008 by Bobby Newman