Free Book Online
Book Religious Liberty in America: The First Amendment in Historical and Contemporary Perspective


Religious Liberty in America: The First Amendment in Historical and Contemporary Perspective

3.5 (3446)

Log in to rate this item

    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Religious Liberty in America: The First Amendment in Historical and Contemporary Perspective.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Bruce T. Murray(Author)

    Book details

In recent years a series of highly publicized controversies has focused attention on what are arguably the sixteen most important words in the U.S. Constitution: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." The ongoing court battles over the inclusion of the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, the now annual cultural quarrel over "Merry Christmas" vs. "Happy Holidays," and the political promotion of "faith-based initiatives" to address social problems―all reflect competing views of the meaning of the religious liberty clauses of the First Amendment.

Such disputes, as Bruce T. Murray shows, are nothing new. For more than two hundred years Americans have disagreed about the proper role of religion in public life and where to draw the line between church and state. In this book, he reexamines these debates and distills the volumes of commentary and case law they have generated. He analyzes not only the changing contours of religious freedom but also the phenomenon of American civil religion, grounded in the notion that the nation's purpose is sanctified by a higher authority―an idea that can be traced back to the earliest New England colonists and remains deeply ingrained in the American psyche.

Throughout the book, Murray connects past and present, tracing the historical roots of contemporary controversies. He considers why it is that a country founded on the separation of church and state remains singularly religious among nations, and concludes by showing how the Supreme Court's thinking about the religious liberty clauses has evolved since the late eighteenth century.

"Murray, a journalist, hopes this book is 'an easy read on a tough topic.' His hope is definitely realized in this volume, which should be required reading for all journalists who touch on the book's subject. . . . Other books on these issues have been appearing of late, but none as clear and thorough as this one."―Choice"This concise and readable book discusses topics relating to the religion clauses of the First Amendment and, more generally, to the interaction of religion and politics in the United States. . . . Well written, engaging, and balanced in its presentations of competing views."―Catholic Historical Review"Bruce Murray seeks to lay out historically and conceptually the issues behind the two religious liberty clauses in the First Amendment. In doing so, he introduces and traces such significant topics as the development of religious pluralism and its ironic counterpart, civil religion. Nowhere is there such a clear and concise explanation of these issues as Murray offers in this book."―Philip Goff, Indiana University–Purdue University, Indianapolis"I heartily recommend this book for professors of history, political science, and religious studies, and to other readers trying to make sense of the confusion about the place of religion in American society and the role of the Constitution in its protection."―H-Law"Murray deserves praise for his success as a narrator who seems to simply tap into the historical record and subsequently search out insight form reputable scholars. For an introduction and overview of the subfield of religious liberty in America, this work provides sufficient depth and for those interested, stimulates questions for further research."―Arizona State University"This book is a splendid presentation of the First Amendment - with civil religion as a parallel theme - especially as presently related to so many issues in American political and religious life. Other books on these issues have been appearing of late, but none as clear and thorough as this one."―G.H. Shriver, Professor Emeritus, Georgia Southern University Bruce T. Murray is an educational writer. Please visit his website:

3.4 (4697)
  • Pdf

*An electronic version of a printed book that can be read on a computer or handheld device designed specifically for this purpose.

Formats for this Ebook

Required Software Any PDF Reader, Apple Preview
Supported Devices Windows PC/PocketPC, Mac OS, Linux OS, Apple iPhone/iPod Touch.
# of Devices Unlimited
Flowing Text / Pages Pages
Printable? Yes

Book details

  • PDF | 232 pages
  • Bruce T. Murray(Author)
  • University of Massachusetts Press (January 2008)
  • English
  • 7
  • History

Read online or download a free book: Religious Liberty in America: The First Amendment in Historical and Contemporary Perspective


Review Text

  • By Scott A. Schudy on February 1, 2009

    In Religious Liberty in America, author Bruce T. Murray brings forth a concise and valuable overview of religion in our history as well as the impact of the religious liberty clauses in the First Amendment . As a former journalist, I can testify to the lack of knowledge I brought with me to the newsroom on religion. As an American history major, I can further bear witness to the lack of interest on my part and the lack of emphasis on my University's part in stressing religion's historical role in legislation and court decisions.I should say that Mr. Murray is my former editor when we worked with the Los Angeles Times. I say this because I remember when Mr. Murray asked me to write on religious subjects. To me, it was as if he had just consigned me to the worst of all news beats.Mr. Murray's book has done more to instill in me the need to be well-versed in religious issues, historic and contemporary. It has helped give me respect for a subject area I had dismissed years ago as fringe and unimportant. It has given me a base from which to further study religion in America and the first Amendment. It has provided me a more solid comprehension of these issues than many other books and classes. It is an important book that I keep referring to as I continue my education, especially my reading of US Supreme Court decisions.

  • Name:
    The message text*: