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The American Myth of Religious Freedom Hardcover – December 30, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 226 pages
  • Publisher: Spence Publishing Company; 2 edition (December 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1890626139
  • ISBN-13: 978-1890626136
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,913,449 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Theologian Craycraft argues that "there is no such thing as religious freedom. The reason that such an assertion sounds so shocking to us is that we have been so completely formed by the American myth." As a secular political culture, America embraces religious freedom only within certain boundariesAreligious orthodoxy is not allowed to threaten the secular basis of government, and therefore orthodox practitioners do not enjoy the same degree of religious freedom as more secular citizens. The Catholic church, for example, is a patently undemocratic institution and therefore fundamentally at odds with U.S. political and legal rhetoric. Craycraft examines the logic of the Constitution, court struggles, published public opinion, and the work of other scholars to support his thesis. A careful reading of this work will aid in understanding the debate, but it will not resolve the tension arising from this conflict of belief. Recommended for academic collections and all libraries in communities where this is a current issue.AGeorge Westerlund, Providence P.L., Palmyra, VA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"Recommended for academic collections and all libraries in communities where this is a current issue." -- Library Journal

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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 6, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I just loved this work. I found it to be compelling, engaging, and very satisfying. All interested in this subject should read it. I have read other work by this author, and this is by far the best.
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6 of 13 people found the following review helpful By David B. Martineau on March 26, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I would have to agree with the author on the following point: It certainly does not seem that Mr. Casper has even a casual relationship with the theoretical constructs put forth. That said, however, a "customer review" forum does not seem like the appropriate place to wage a war of words. If Mr. Casper believes his arguments are valid, perhaps he could try a more academic forum in which to elucidate for us all the dogma he spews forth,to explain what the bee in his little bonnet is all about.
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4 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 11, 2000
Format: Hardcover
What this book brings out is the interesting way in which the extremists of the Left and Right suffer from the same totalitarianism. For both of them, political "freedom" is not satisfying unless it includes the "freedom" to force you, against your will, to actively support their religious view: the Right by theocracy, and the Left by forcing Christians to pay (in taxes) for anti-Christian art, abortions, and secularist education.
What both seem unable to grasp is, that "Government," as George Washington put it: "is force." "Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master." Nor can democratic majority rule alter this fundamental reality, since "an elective despotism is not the government we fought for." (Jefferson) The moderate, conservative, classical, laissez-faire liberalism of the American founders knew the only hope for social peace lay in the principle of "live and let live," the idea that the purpose of government must first and foremost be to prevent anyone from using force or the threat of violence to compel others, whether it be to force them at gunpoint to be baptized or to buy Robert Mapplethorpe a new car. When government undertakes to do all and to be all, it creates strife. Whether the State undertakes to erect crosses on public land, or to submerge them in jars of urine, the principle is the same: social peace is violated. Of all the political experiments in the history of the world, the American experiment in religious freedom has been the most unequivocally successful. Extremists like Fish and Craycraft should not be working to destroy it.
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16 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Frank Casper on November 23, 1999
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Craycrafts book is consistent with a strong trend all across the right-wing conservative spectrum, particularly among religious conservatives. The basic religious message of religious conservatives is that democracy simply doesn't work. But that is not generally what they actually say, and for good reason. It would be, or at least one hopes it would be, tantamount to political suicide. Rather, the basic strategy of the religious right is to cast this message in terms that appeal to the mainstream, to make it sound as though they are trying to protect and advance the very democratic rights based political culture that they actually seek to rescind. The mainstream version of the right-wing message is the persistent charge that the government of the United States has itself betrayed democracy. For the religious right, this betrayal consists in the alleged establishment of secular humanism as the defacto religion of the State, all under the guise of tolerance. Tolerance, they say, is the religion of liberals who, primarily through rulings of the Supreme Court, have succeeded in marginalizing Christianity and are leading the country toward moral and political catastrophe. This is a common theme throughout the conservative right-wing, from the radical right-wing religion of Christian Reconstructionism to the more mainstream Christian conservatives like Richard Neuhaus. Craycraft, however, takes this conspiracy of liberals all the way back to "that great philosopher of church/state separation," John Locke.
According to Craycraft, it was never Locke's intention to create a political culture that was tolerant of difference religious viewpoints.
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