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Church and State in America: The First Two Centuries (Cambridge Essential Histories) Paperback – April 3, 2014
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"In many ways, the story of America is a tale of the long and tortuous struggle to define and defend the rights of conscience: religious liberty as America's 'first freedom.' In Church and State in America, Jim Hutson constructs this narrative-'one of the miracles of the age'-with profound insight and meticulous scholarship. He has the historian's gift for uncovering the forgotten anecdotes, animosities, proclamations, and lamentations that enlighten our understanding of the past and offer wisdom to confront the contemporary challenges to freedom. A very timely and engaging piece of work." -Joseph Loconte, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and commentator on religion and politics for National Public Radio.
"The signal contribution of this book is to show that, while the American Revolution and American Constitution did alter some inherited wisdom on church-state connections, they also left a great deal from earlier centuries unchanged. James Hutson's reading of the founding era and what lead up to it calls into question a great deal of conventional wisdom, but does so in the most productive way--through painstakingly careful attention to specific historical evidence." -Mark Noll, University of Notre Dame
"This richly textured and text-filled study tells the unique American story of church and state. Moving beyond modern clichés about a wall of separation, Hutson shows that America's founders regarded religion and the church as vital to politics and the state, so long as both remained freely chosen and freely exercised. Meticulously researched and masterfully narrated, James Hutson's latest offering has all the earmarks of a classic in the making." -John Witte, Jr., Director of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion, Emory University
"Hutson's prose, research, and analysis are solid throughout, but his succinct treatment of all seventeenth-century English colonies is especially noteworthy...his nuanced description of both Great Awakenings' impact on church-state relations is unique and helpful. Most of all Hutson's work in praiseworthy because it sheds light convincingly on a contemporary topic without being overtly present minded." --Canadian Journal of History
Top Customer Reviews
Hutson makes a good case that the Supreme Court cases in the late 19th century and mid-20th century have misread the issue employing Jefferson's phrase in a way that ignores contrary evidence. The fact that states like Connecticut, New Hampshire and Massachusetts maintained state sponsored church establishments through the early 19th century clearly indicates that the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment did not rule out religious establishments in the individual states. Had that been the understanding, few states would have ratified the Constitution.Read more ›