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Divided by God America's Church-State Problem--and What We Should Do About It

ISBN: 9780374530389 | 0374530386
Edition: Reprint
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Pub. Date: 6/27/2006

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A brilliant and urgent appraisal of one of the most profound conflicts of our time Even before George W. Bush gained reelection by wooing religiously devout "values voters," it was clear that church-state matters in the United States had reached a crisis. WithDivided by God, Noah Feldman shows that the crisis is as old as this country--and looks to our nation's past to show how it might be resolved. Today more than ever, ours is a religiously diverse society: Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist as well as Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish. And yet more than ever, committed Christians are making themselves felt in politics and culture. What are the implications of this paradox? To answer this question, Feldman makes clear that again and again in our nation's history diversity has forced us to redraw the lines in the church-state divide. In vivid, dramatic chapters, he describes how we as a people have resolved conflicts over the Bible, the Pledge of Allegiance, and the teaching of evolution through appeals to shared values of liberty, equality, and freedom of conscience. And he proposes a brilliant solution to our current crisis, one that honors our religious diversity while respecting the long-held conviction that religion and state should not mix. Divided by Godspeaks to the headlines, even as it tells the story of a long-running conflict that has made the American people who we are. Noah Feldman, who teaches law at New York University, has emerged as the leading expert on the relations between religion and government worldwide. He is the author of two previous books:After Jihad, which put him "into the center of an unruly brawl now raging in policy circles over what to do with the Arab world" (The New York Times Book Review); andWhat We Owe Iraq, which Richard Clarke called "insightful, accessible, and highly recommended." A former U.S. Supreme Court clerk, and presently a fellow at the New America Foundation, he lives in New York City. AWashington PostBest Book of the Year Even before George W. Bush gained re-election through a frank appeal to religiously devout "values voters," it was clear that church-state matters in the United States had reached a crisisone that threatens to split the country in two. WithDivided by God, Noah Feldman shows that the crisis is as old as Americaand looks to our nation's past to show how it might be resolved. Today more than ever, ours is a religiously diverse society: Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist as well as Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish. And yet at the same time, committed Christians are making their influence felt in politics and culture with unprecedented vigor. What are the implications of this seemingly contradictory state of affairs? To answer the question, Feldman tells the story of the relations between religion and American government, making clear that again and again in our history, diversity has forced us to redraw the lines in the church-state divide. In vivid, dramatic chapters, he describes how we as a people have settled controversies over the Bible, the Pledge of Allegiance, and the teaching of evolution through appeals to shared values of liberty, equality, and freedom of conscience. And he proposes a brilliant solution to our current crisisan approach that would honor our religious diversity while respecting the long-held conviction that religion and state should not mix. Divided by Godspeaks to the headlines, even as it tells the story of a long-running conflict that has shaped the American peopleindeed, made us who we are. "Divided by Godis an extraordinary book, carefully researched and well-written, with a cogent . . . conclusion. It is a window on a mindand a nationat important


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