Endowed by Our Creator: The Birth of Religious Freedom in America (Hardcover)
The debate over the framers' concept of freedom of religion has become heated and divisive. This scrupulously researched book sets aside the half-truths, omissions, and partisan arguments, and instead focuses on the actual writings and actions of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, and others. Legal scholar Michael I. Meyerson investigates how the framers of the Constitution envisioned religious freedom and how they intended it to operate in the new republic.
Endowed by Our Creator shows that the framers understood that the American government should not acknowledge religion in a way that favors any particular creed or denomination. Nevertheless, the framers believed that religion could instill virtue and help to unify a diverse nation. They created a spiritual public vocabulary, one that could communicate to all--including agnostics and atheists--that they were valued members of the political community. Through their writings and their decisions, the framers affirmed that respect for religious differences is a fundamental American value. Now it is for us, Meyerson concludes, to determine whether religion will be used to alienate and divide or to inspire and unify our religiously diverse nation.
About the Author
Michael I. Meyerson is Wilson H. Elkins Professor of Law and Piper & Marbury Faculty Fellow, University of Baltimore School of Law. He is the author of Liberty's Blueprint, a history of the writing of the Federalist Papers. He lives in Ellicott City, MD.
"A very fine examination of the role that religion, and religious conflict, has played in our American story. Artfully blending history and narrative, Meyerson breathes life into an often misunderstood story, examining the beliefs of our founders, and showing how those beliefs did not always determine their policy decisions . . . This is a wonderful book, a needed corrective to the heat that often defines the current debate."—Publishers Weekly
"As Meyerson shows in this impressively researched book, each side of the sacred vs. secular camp can find ammunition to support its respective point of view. But he regards such partisan exercises as misleading at best and dangerous at worst. That's not because the Founders lacked a clear vision, he says, but rather because that vision was cast in terms of a union in which church and state—but not God and state, or religion and state—would be separate . . . . [The book is] written in clear, vigorous prose. It should be, and, with the aid of divine providence, is likely to be, durable."—History News Network
"Endowed by Our Creator, an engaging volume on a timely issue, outlines a history that should inform the minds of all Americans, religious or not. This carefully researched study ... is both well documented and easy reading. . . . [An] engaging look at religious freedom’s beginnings…. The book would make for lively discussions for ecumenical or parish study groups, especially in the rather charged environment of election-year rhetoric."—Brother Jeffrey Gros, Catholic Telegraph
"In this meticulously researched book devoid of the usual partisan bickering, Meyerson argues it's possible to protect both individual liberty and public religious expression, and he emerges with a strikingly balanced perspective on one of America's most hotly debated issues."—Christianity Today