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Moral Minority: Our Skeptical Founding Fathers Paperback – September 9, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Ms. Allen succeeds perfectly. (Adam Kirsch New York Sun)
Enlightening, infectiously enthusiastic scrutiny. (Ray Olson Booklist)
Careful and provocative reading. . . . Allen's book is welcome counterweight. (Darryl Hart, Hillsdale College)
Allen's clear and intelligent eye is a pleasure . . . a fine small book. (Peter Matthiessen, novelist and non-fiction writer, twice winner of the National Book Award)
Allen lucidly demolishes the fundamentalists' revisionist history of the Constitution. . . . An elegant and riveting defense. (Heather MacDonald)
Well documented, exuberantly argued and quite persuasive. (George Will, winner of the Pulitzer Prize The New York Times)
Allen provides honest answers to the questions about the religious beliefs and practices of Washington and the other key founders. (Myron A. Marty St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
If our right-wing adversaries insist on claiming that Washington and Franklin actually wanted the United States to be a Christian theocracy, Allen's book certainly can help to refute that outrageous lie. (Emile Schepers People's Weekly World)
Her argument marks a salient starting point for an informed debate on a compelling topic. Those who call the U.S. a 'Christian Nation' when referring not only to the religious beliefs of its citizens but to the structure and intention of its government ought to welcome the contrarian challenge she poses. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
Allen delivers a rationalist polemic against those who would make of the American Founders observant, believing Christians in the modern sense. . . . Ms. Allen writes with facility. (Aram Bakshian Jr. The Wall Street Journal)
This is an excellent book about the beliefs of the six founders and well worth a read. Highly recommended. (Marty Dodge Blogcritics)
A mighty case for the religious questioning of America's Founding Fathers . . . thoughtful, diligently researched and often eyebrow-raising. (Blue Ridge Business Journal)
[Written] in a brisk, highly readable style. (Village News)
This is a thoughtful, well-written book. (Alvena Bieri Newspress)
Examine[s] the . . . Founding Fathers to convincingly demonstrate that Christian belief did not guide their political thinking . . . an excellent concluding chapter. (Milton Berman Magill Book Reviews)
A small, and wildly underappreciated book. (Nicholas F. Benton Falls Church News-Press)
Ably demonstrates the uncontroversial thesis that many of the founding fathers were not very devout. (Old Durham Road)
Allen's book . . . brings the substantial literary talents of a public intellectual to the dialogue on church and state in America. (Journal of Southern History)
Informed by substantial research in their writings and provides numerous quotations. (Allen Gibson The Historian)
Top Customer Reviews
Ms. Allen dedicates individual chapters to the religious attitudes of Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton. Ms. Allen peruses the personal correspondences and other original documents of the founders to discuss how their thinking on religion might have developed over the course of their lives. In most cases, she finds that with education and life experiences came expressions of disillusionment and even hostility to organized religion, providing further evidence that these attitudes only became more resolute with age. In the case of Washington, who wrote almost nothing on the subject, the author presents strong circumstantial evidence that the first president was at best a Deist but almost certainly not a Christian.
Ms. Allen finds a modern antecedent in the person of Hamilton, whose defense of the Constitution's no establishment clause did not prevent him from advocating the use of religion as a political weapon. We learn that Hamilton's cynical political tactic to label Jefferson as the champion of 'no god!!!' during the 1800 presidential contest backfired, even as the advent of the Second Great Awakening was threatening to elevate religion as a major campaign issue. Interestingly, Ms.Read more ›
While 6 of 51 Constitutional Conventioneers does not establish the whole Convention's point of view, certainly Washington, Franklin, Madison, Jefferson, Adams, and Hamilton were the central architects of our Founding Documents. What Allen aims to show is that these six individuals in particular were not normative Christians, and whatever religious views they held (mainly Deism or unorthodox Theism), the Enlightenment Ideals, not Christianity, prevailed. But, of course, it did.
One finds not a single Judeo-Christian notion, belief, concept, or ideal in any of our founding documents. NO mention of God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, the Decalogue, Charity, Faith, Hope, Forgiveness, Non-Judgmentalism, Self-denial, Spiritual Rebirth, etc. is found in any of the founding documents. Not even American "exceptionalism," based on Calvin's Divine Election of the Chosen, is found (however much it continues to surface in practical politics). If America's founding was "Christian," no evidence exists for a single Christian idea.
The Liberal Ideals of the Enlightenment, of course, opposed much of historical Christianity: Notions of self-rule, democracy, autonomy, freedom/liberty, anti-authoritarianism, equality, pluralism, freedom of thought and belief and practice, fairness/justice, impartiality, one-person-one-vote, human rights, diffusion of power, etc., all hail from the Enlightenment.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great historical narrative on the religious skepticism of our founding fathers. Too many evangelicals and political light-weights (Sarah Palin) have the incorrect belief our... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Dean
I've been really into both the founding fathers and the Enlightenment over the past 2 years. I've read and bought many books, done a lot of research. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Paradigm
Where to begin is a difficult choice. The title, perhaps! I would like to have it explained to me. If, as Allen states on page 180, there is “no reason an atheist should not be... Read morePublished on May 24, 2014 by Glen Blesi
We are in a stage of American history when the words of those who founded the country are being totally distorted to sell an agenda that never existed. Read morePublished on January 23, 2014 by Larry
A friend of mine got me this and I bought it for my son. It puts the founding fathers' religious views in perspective. Read morePublished on December 9, 2013 by Peter M. Ross, Ph.D.
A welcome recital of facts and antidote to the commonly expressed view that the American Founding Fathers were Christians, when most were barely deists, if that. Read morePublished on March 3, 2013 by Dr Garry
Fascinating analysis of the Founding Fathers thinking. Extremely well researched, and written. I am keeping this book on Kindle for ready reference.Published on February 3, 2013 by Paula Zurcher
Most of the time we hear all types of stores about the founder and if you know your history realize they are politcal statements and not reality. Read morePublished on January 18, 2013 by carol frick