The Godless Constitution: The Case Against Religious Correctness

Front Cover
W. W. Norton & Company, 1997 - Church and state - 191 pages
2 Reviews
The Godless Constitution is an urgent and timely reexamination of the roots of church-state separation in American politics - and a ringing refutation of the misguided claims of the religious right. In this important polemic two distinguished scholars of American political ideas and religion refute this dangerous attempt to introduce what they term "religious correctness" into our politics, by reminding us that the absence of any mention of God in the Constitution was a conscious action on the framers' part, intended to prevent the bloody religious controversies that so marked European history. They also emphasize that church-state separation was seen as a guarantee of - not a hindrance to - religions liberty. Fully respecting the importance of religion in the public sphere, yet forthright in defining proper limits, The Godless Constitution offers a bracing return to the first principles of American democracy - and a guide to keeping them intact in the forthcoming presidential campaign.
 

What people are saying - Write a review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

A well researched book. It gives a solid understanding for why the fathers set up the constitution the way they did - and I'm glad they did. It seems we will never be free of the debates on it from those on the right, but I feel that I can stand strong on why I also believe in the separation wall, and what their original intent was. I also feel that this should be read by all Christians, so they too would understand why they should want government to not dictate what they should believe. A great quote from one of the fathers: "Government cannot touch religion without corrupting it".  

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

It's a good book, and has a lot of interesting points. I believe the thesis statement(the Constitution of the US, is, for better or for worse, a paper that makes no mention of God and leaves God out of the state); however, this disturbs me.
First off, one of the guys that really influenced the Founding Fathers of the US is a guy called John Locke(yes, LOST fans, I think I know where they got the name from. Haha!) Anyways, he had some good ideas, but I think he went too far in his theories and didn't take a moment to think what the full extent of those theories would have led to. Basically, he wanted a Godless State, because he had seen what a Godful (Umm, what is the opposite of Godless? ?)State had done to Europe... the dozens of DREADFUL wars of religion (a really nice and bloody one was the Dutch war for Independence...) and so he came to the conclusion that religion + the state = bad. Now, I think I understand him, and I agree with him on one level, but at another level, I disagree with him. Here's why:
I think that Locke has a lot of good ideas. I also understand how he came to his radical ideas seeing what the state of Europe was at the time. BUT I disagree with his statements. I believe that when the government is made completely godless, as Locke seems to want it, then the nation itself will become godless. I'm not sure if Locke wanted this, or didn't think this would happen (I'm sure for a person living in his time the idea of no religion was impossible to comprehend). And so, we have a problem. To this day, the best morals come from holy texts and their religions. All of the religions I have experienced (Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam) at some point or another encourage morals. Yes, many of them are, to me, immoral (like Islamic laws dealing with women) but they are there, at some point or another. And so, when we create a secular state, it is necessary to have laws; a state without laws is pointless! And yet, if we do, indeed, create a truly "godless" state then where do our laws come from? Even if we base them off of what the Enlightenment people of the age called "natural law" we are still using Deism, a religion! I find that when we remove God and religion from the state, for better or for worse, then we remove any and all reason to obey the state and its law other than the fact that the state is bigger, stronger and smarter than you. In short, you have created the greatest monster one can imagine, a demon of supreme power who forces you to do his bidding, not because he is right, but because he has become your god.
I think this is what has/is happened/ing in the West. We have replaced the religion of Christianity with others; Islam is becoming popular (one of the fastest growing religions in the world!) and then we have Atheism and Science, which contain either no morals (Atheism gives me no morals other than the ones that I myself choose. Hmm...not good? Same with Science, really) and Islam, well, I've already explained my view of Islam. When we remove God from the government, we are admitting that God has no place in the public sector, and thus whatever rules or morals God has given us are pointless and irrelevant! THIS IS A LIE OF SATAN!
Yep, that's what I say: at the base of Locke's theory, we end up with the worst type of state imaginable: Communism! (Yes, I believe Communism is evil...hard not to consider what Mao, Lenin, and Stalin did!)
However, this gives us a problem: How do we combine religion with politics, which, as I've said, don't mix: wars of religion anyone? Jihad? The Crusades? With a nation that has a good set of morals?
 

Contents

Introduction to the Paperback Edition
7
Is America a Christian Nation?
11
The Godless Constitution
26
Roger Williams and the Religious Argument for ChurchState Separation
46
The English Roots of the Secular State
67
The Infidel Mr Jefferson
88
American Baptists and the Jeffersonian Tradition
110
Sunday Mail and the Christian Amendment
131
Religious Politics and Americas Moral Dilemmas
150
A Note on Sources
179
Index
183
Copyright

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (1997)

R. Laurence Moore is Howard A. Newman Professor of American Studies and History at Cornell University.

Bibliographic information