Review Of "The Forgotten Founders On Religion And Public Life" Edited By D. L. Dreisbach, M. D. Hall, And Jeffry H. Morrison

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Following The Founders on God and Government (CH, Dec'05, 43-2139; same editors), these essays focus on important Revolutionary generation individuals' little-known views on religion and society. Arguing that historians and the Supreme Court give too much significance to the religious writings of Madison, Jefferson, Franklin, Adams, and Washington, these essays concentrate on the impact of the religious perspectives of now-neglected founding fathers and mothers, including religious radicals Tom Paine and Benjamin Rush; the devout Roger Sherman, Oliver Ellsworth, John Jay, Sam Adams, and (in late life) Alexander Hamilton; and the moderate Edmund Randolph, Patrick Henry, Abigail Adams, and Mercy Warren. All supported religious liberty and stressed the close ties between religious beliefs and morality necessary for republican government. Articles feature a brief biography, description of subjects' religious beliefs, and analysis of ideas about churches' value in public life. Although several authors insist they are not writing for the current church/state debates, this book will provide evidence for those supporting accommodation rather than strict separation. All essays are well researched and worthwhile. Most valuable is William Casto's on Ellsworth, which demonstrates that Senate and House conferees on the First Amendment did not agree and so finessed rather than clarified the major issues. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-level undergraduates through faculty/researchers; general readers.


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