Solemn Reverence: The Separation of Church and State in American Life (Sunlight Editions) (Paperback)

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"A slender but thoroughly argued case for reinforcing the wall between church and state. . . A stern warning that those who push for the intrusion of religion into public life do so at the peril of both." -- Kirkus Reviews

The First Amendment to the US Constitution codified the principle that the government should play no role in favoring or supporting any religion, while allowing free exercise of all religions (including unbelief). More than two centuries later, the results from this experiment are overwhelming: The separation of church and state has shielded the government from religious factionalism, and the United States boasts a diverse religious culture unmatched anywhere in the world. In Solemn Reverence, Randall Balmer, one of the premier historians of religion in America, reviews both the history of the separation of church and state as well as the various attempts to undermine that wall of separation. Despite the fact that the First Amendment and the separation of church and state has served the nation remarkably well, he argues, its future is by no means assured.

About the Author


Randall Balmer (Ph.D., Princeton University), a prize-winning historian, Emmy Award nominee and ordained Episcopal priest, is the John Phillips Professor in Religion at Dartmouth College. He was professor of American religious history at Columbia University for twenty-seven years, and he has been a visiting professor at Princeton, Yale, Drew, Emory, and Northwestern universities and in the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He is the author of more than a dozen books, including Evangelicalism in America and Redeemer: The Life of Jimmy CarterMine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: A Journey into the Evangelical Subculture in America, now in its fifth edition, was made into a three-part series for PBS. He is writing and will host his third PBS documentary, a history of the Orthodox Church in Alaska. His commentaries about religion in America appear in newspapers across the country.

Praise For…


"Who needs this book? Pastors, professors, and all those who want to preserve one of the great distinctions of America." Scot McNight, in Christianity Today

"Balmer puts his skill as a historian on display as he makes well-resourced arguments, but he also excels here as a storyteller." Los Angeles Review of Books

“A thoroughly argued case for reinforcing the wall between church and state. . . A stern warning that those who push for the intrusion of religion into public life do so at the peril of both.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Weaving his way through a history embracing the last four centuries, Balmer insightfully and creatively narrates the contested nature of disestablishment.” "—Journal of Church & State


Product Details
ISBN: 9781586422714
ISBN-10: 1586422715
Publisher: Truth to Power
Publication Date: February 2nd, 2021
Pages: 112
Language: English
Series: Sunlight Editions