So Help Me God: The Founding Fathers and the First Great Battle Over Church and State
, 2007 - History
- 530 pages
Today’s dispute over the line between church and state (or the lack thereof) is neither the first nor the fiercest in our history. In a powerful retelling of the birth of the American body politic, religious historian Forrest Church describes our first great culture war--a tumultuous yet nearly forgotten conflict that raged from George Washington’s presidency to James Monroe’s. On one side of the battle, the proponents of order--Federalists, Congregationalists, New Englanders--believed that the only legitimate ruler of men is God. On the other side, the defenders of liberty--republicans, Baptists, Virginians--cheered the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, and believed that only the separation of church and state would preserve man’s freedom. Would we be a nation under God, or with liberty for all?In this vigorous history, Forrest Church offers a new vision of our earliest presidents’ beliefs, reshaping assumptions about the debates that still reverberate across our land.