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The Lively Experiment: Religious Toleration in America from Roger Williams to the Present Hardcover – March 19, 2015
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The Lively Experiment’s value is its examination of an issue that is both historical and contemporary, providing readers with new perspectives on the evolution of religious toleration., Journal of American History
This collection advances our knowledge of U.S. religious liberty history in a lively way., Voice of Reason
Chris Beneke and Christopher S. Grenda are among the best students of religious liberty and church-state relations in early America. In The Lively Experiment, they have put together a fine collection of essays on religious toleration in America from the early colonies to the present day. This volume should be read by anyone interested in the development of religious liberty in the United States. -- Mark Hall, George Fox University
Collectively, the essays in The Lively Experiment forcefully underline why the experiment of constructing religious freedom in a liberal polity has been so lively: the practice of toleration is a constantly negotiated process, not a preordained outcome. -- Charles L. Cohen, University of Wisconsin–Madison
The essays in this volume challenge us to understand that “religious toleration” and “religious liberty” are not one and the same. Toleration is sometimes painful and rarely, if ever easy. Liberty may be “inalienable,” but the question of whether it is communal—held by groups and not just individuals—vexes us even today. The Lively Experiment is an ambitious exploration of a complicated commitment that lies at the heart of American identity. -- Maura Jane Farrelly, Brandeis University
Through a rich array of case studies, this smart and timely collection explores the contradictions of religious tolerance in America. From complications derived from interpreting Roger Williams' demand for religious freedom to the paradoxes of modern ecumenism, the volume moves beyond arguments for religious pluralism to examine the complicated history of religious tolerance, and the tendency among champions of religious tolerance to uphold new forms of intolerance. -- Amanda Porterfield, Florida State University
The case studies of religious toleration gathered here offer an illuminating introduction to the historical vagaries of this contested ideal. Rather than proposing a linear narrative of progress, they shed light on the complex ambiguities and tensions endemic to how Americans have tried to put the abstract principle of toleration into practice. -- Isaac Weiner, The Ohio State University
This terrific set of essays is full of compelling new insights into the history of religious toleration and religious freedom in America. Moving well beyond any simple narrative of progress, these authors help us understand the many complications and dilemmas of America’s ongoing debate around the meaning and limits of religious freedom. -- Tisa Wenger, Yale Divinity School
About the Author
Christopher S. Grenda is associate professor of history at Bronx Community College of CUNY.