Friday, January 24, 2014
Steven Smith's "The Rise and Decline of American Religious Freedom"
Oh, happy day . . . my actual copy of Prof. Steven Smith's latest book, The Rise and Decline of American Religious Freedom arrived yesterday. I read it in draft, before, and -- entirely apart from the wonderfully engaging prose -- I think it's a must read for anyone interested in the law-politics-society-faith-religion thing. Here's a bit from the Amazon blurb:
Familiar accounts of religious freedom in the United States often tell a story of visionary founders who broke from the centuries-old patterns of Christendom to establish a political arrangement committed to secular and religiously neutral government. These novel commitments were supposedly embodied in the religion clauses of the First Amendment. But this story is largely a fairytale, Steven Smith says in this incisive examination of a much-mythologized subject. He makes the case that the American achievement was not a rejection of Christian commitments but a retrieval of classic Christian ideals of freedom of the church and freedom of conscience.
As Andy Koppelman puts it, on the back cover, this is "one of the most important books on religious liberty in years." (No doubt this was one of the others he had in mind!)
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