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A Christian Nation?: An examination of Christian nation theories and proofs. Paperback – November 4, 2011
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"A Christian Nation?" is a book that examines arguments for and against the notion of the United States being a Christian nation. David A. Rosman takes us on an educational ride of our founding documents as he provides compelling arguments for his conclusions. This 256 page-book is composed of the following sixteen chapters: 1. A Christian Nation?, 2. Background Stuff, 3. Can't Get There From Here, 4. The Question, 5. In the Beginning, 6. The Guys in Wigs, 7. Proclamations, 8. The Founding Documents, 9. God and the Constitution, 10. In God We Trust, 11. The Court Cases, 12. In the End, 13. Post Script, 14. Referenced Documents, 15. Court Cases, and 16. Notes.
1. Interesting topic that combines religion and politics.
2. Well written, straight forward prose. Accessible to the masses.
3. Thought-provoking arguments backed by compelling points. This is a well researched book.
4. Does an exceptional job of letting the reader know where the referencing material came from. The strongest suit of this book.
5. Quotable, "Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts." By late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
6. Critical thinking applied to the question, "Is the United States a Christian nation?" Many misconceptions debunked.
7. A fair assessment to the primary proofs presented by the Christian nation proponents of God being included in: the Pledge of Allegiance, on American currency, and other historical documents.
8. A brief and worthwhile look at the religious background of some of the main founders. Many misconceptions laid to rest.
9. The impact of New York City's Archbishop, Fulton Sheen.
10. The Establishment Clause properly dissected.
11. Article VI, clause 3 under the microscope.
12. What the founders knew and the one thing they agreed on. A teaser...
13. Thomas Jefferson's beliefs and his indelible marks on our nation. My favorite founder...
14. An interesting look at the Federalist Papers and some interesting takes on Alexander Hamilton.
15. The Constitution and the Founder's astuteness.
16. The inception of the National Day of Prayer.
17. The importance of the Articles of Confederation.
18. Madison's "Memorial and Remonstrance" and impact on religious involvement in government.
19. The Fourteenth Amendment.
20. Jefferson's Wall.
21. Article 11 of the Treaty with Tripoli and some keen insights.
22. The different versions of the Ten Commandments.
23. Tackling the most visible arguments in defense of the Christian nation theory: our currency, our national pledge and for good measure Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. Interesting facts.
24. Court cases reviewed.
25. Links to notes worked like a charm.
26. Bonus materials provided for your reading pleasure.
1. The book takes awhile to engage with the reader and to find that rhythm that makes the book enjoyable.
2. Poor editing. Some words made it through the editing process...one instead of once as an example.
3. The Kindle version did not allow to link from the table of contents. Though to my surprise the Kindle Fire did.
4. Charts and illustrations would have added value. Lists of the founding fathers...and so forth.
In summary, this turned out to be a worthwhile book to read. I learned a lot from of it and I really appreciate the author's diligence in providing reference material. It's a hot topic issue and this book provides sound compelling arguments that can only lead to one undeniable conclusion: we are a secular nation with currently a Christian majority. It may be a little rough around the edges but this book ultimately enlightens.
Further suggestions: "American Fascists" by Chris Hedges, "Attack of the Theocrats..." by Sean Faircloth, "The Conservative Assault on the Constitution" by Erwin Chemerinsky, "Liars for Jesus..." by Chris Rodda, "American Taliban..." by Markos Moulitsas, and "The Faith of the Founding Fathers" by David L. Holmes.
The Articles of Confederation
The Bill of Rights
The Treaty of Tripoli
Do these documents and more betray a Christian underpinning? Or do they encourage religious tolerance? Is the constitution really based on the Ten Commandments? When did God find His way into the Star Spangled Banner, and how did "In God We Trust" turn into our national motto, even adorning our coins? Rosman's controversial finding: We became a nation "under God" in the 1950's, when cold war propaganda necessitated our uniting against those godless commies in the USSR.
Rosman's analysis is very well-organized and actually quite balanced, even when he exposes America's cold war strategy. His research leads to the expected conclusion: Our nation was NOT founded on Christian beliefs. Although a few early individuals did make efforts to merge religion and government, most of those efforts were met by reason and properly rejected.
It turns out our founding fathers shared a diverse collection of beliefs. Many were Christians, many were Deists, many were careful to give no indication. The settlers who founded our nation may have known their Bible, having come from nations where Christianity was the primary religion, but America was founded on religious freedom. We can't describe these men in wide brushstrokes, collectively categorizing them all as Christians or Deists or Atheists. That's as nonsensical as pretending all the writers of the New Testament were Trinitarians or Adoptionists. Different people hold different religious views--whether 2,000 years ago, 250 years ago, or today. And toleration of these differences form the strength of our nation.
I enjoyed the book and learned a ton, but two annoyances keep me from giving it a five-star review: A bit of a slow start, and an inordinate number of editing errors. I don't usually let errors influence my ranking, but this one definitely needed a better editor.
NOTE: Hooray! I just learned I was given an uncorrected draft/proof edition of the book. The binding and publication date fooled me. I can now happily upgrade my rating to five stars.