Religious Roots of the First Amendment Dissenting Protestantism and the Separation of Church and State

ISBN-10: 0199858365
ISBN-13: 9780199858361
Edition: 2012
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Description: Traditional understandings of the genesis of the separation of church and state rest on assumptions about "Enlightenment" and the republican ethos of citizenship. Nicholas Miller does not seek to dislodge that interpretation but to augment and  More...

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Book details

Copyright year: 2012
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 6/15/2012
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 208
Size: 6.50" wide x 9.50" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 1.078
Language: English

Traditional understandings of the genesis of the separation of church and state rest on assumptions about "Enlightenment" and the republican ethos of citizenship. Nicholas Miller does not seek to dislodge that interpretation but to augment and enrich it by recovering its cultural anddiscursive religious contexts - specifically the discourse of Protestant dissent. He argues that commitments by certain dissenting Protestants to the right of private judgment in matters of Biblical interpretation, an outgrowth of the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers, helped promotereligious disestablishment in the early modern West. This movement climaxed in the disestablishment of religion in the early American colonies and nation. Miller identifies a continuous strand of this religious thought from the Protestant Reformation, across Europe, through the English Reformation, Civil War, and Restoration, into the American colonies. He examines seven key thinkers who played a major role in the development of this religioustrajectory as it came to fruition in American political and legal history: William Penn, John Locke, Elisha Williams, Isaac Backus, William Livingston, John Witherspoon, and James Madison. Miller shows that the separation of church and state can be read, most persuasively, as the triumph of a particular strand of Protestant nonconformity - that which stretched back to the Puritan separatist and the Restoration sects, rather than to those, like Presbyterians, who sought to replace the'wrong' church establishment with their own, "right" one. The Religious Roots of the First Amendment contributes powerfully to the current trend among some historians to rescue the eighteenth-century clergymen and religious controversialists from the enormous condescension of posterity.

Foreword
Acknowledgments
Prologue
Introduction: Religion and American Disestablishment
The Monk and the Bard: From Luther's Protest to Milton's Protestant Vision
The Philosopher and the Enthusiast: The Collaboration of John Locke and William Penn
The Puritan Lawyer and the Baptist Preacher: Elisha Williams, Isaac Backus, and American Dissent
Revolutionary and Governor: William Livingston Opposes Anglican Control of King's College
Theologian and Politician: John Witherspoon and James Madison Make a National Principle
Epilogue: Back to the Future of Church and State
Appendix: Significant Works on Religious Freedom and Early America
Notes
Bibliography
Index

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