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Inventing a Christian America : the myth of…

Inventing a Christian America : the myth of the religious founding (edition 2015)

by Steven K. Green

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Title:Inventing a Christian America : the myth of the religious founding
Authors:Steven K. Green
Info:New York, NY : Oxford University Press, 2015.
Collections:Wishlist, Wishlist 4

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Inventing a Christian America: The Myth of the Religious Founding by Steven K. Green



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In Inventing a Christian America, Steven K. Green provides a very well-researched, detailed and nuanced history of religious thought during the time of the colonists, at the founding of the new country and how the past was manipulated to create the myth we now know as a "Christian America." It is balanced and debunks many talking points on both sides of the current arguments about the founding of the country.

I believe this is one book that could be done an injustice by trying to summarize it briefly. It is extremely nuanced and any brief overview will skip parts of the story that together make the overall argument. Let me just say that unless you're more interested in having your way than exploring the truth, this will be a rewarding read.

I highly recommend this book for anyone either involved in, or interested in, the contemporary debates over whether or to what degree America might be a "Christian country."

Reviewed from an ARC made available by the publisher via NetGalley. ( )
  pomo58 | Aug 7, 2015 |
A thoroughly researched and cited investigation into the religious claims and views about the founding of America from the Puritans until the 1830s.

The author's purpose is to consider the view that America was founded as a "Christian nation" and on Biblical principles and that America has been a beacon for religious liberty since the Puritans. He demonstrates that such claims are overstated. He begins with claims of religious liberty, systematically exploring the various colonies and finding that almost all of them, including the Puritan colonies, did not really affirm religious liberty but expected conformity.

The bulk of the book explores the religious views of the founders and the founding documents, and the author provides a nuanced picture. Many did have very strong Christian views, others tended more toward Deism, but the foundation of their claims about the legitimacy of their endeavor rested upon a Lockean understanding of natural law and the need to resist tyranny. It would be expected to speak of these events in religious terminology considering the time; nevertheless, within a few years of the nation's founding, as the French experiment went south, many pious Americans began to feel uneasy with the "secular" foundation of the American governmental system and in its documents.

The author concludes with an exploration into the first few decades of the 19th century and the establishment of the "Christian nation" myth, charting its primary authors and their endeavors to "baptize" the founders and the founding documents while propping up the Puritans as those seeking religious liberty and establishing a haven for religious liberty.

A very relevant book in light of current arguments about the United States and its beginnings.

**--galley received as part of early review program ( )
  deusvitae | Jul 30, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0190230975, Hardcover)

Among the most enduring themes in American history is the idea that the United States was founded as a Christian nation. A pervasive narrative in everything from school textbooks to political commentary, it is central to the way in which many Americans perceive the historical legacy of their nation. Yet, as Steven K. Green shows in this illuminating new book, it is little more than a myth.

In Inventing a Christian America, Green, a leading historian of religion and politics, explores the historical record that is purported to support the popular belief in America's religious founding and status as a Christian nation. He demonstrates that, like all myths, these claims are based on historical "facts" that have been colored by the interpretive narratives that have been imposed upon them. In tracing the evolution of these claims and the evidence levied in support of them from the founding of the New England colonies, through the American Revolution, and to the present day, he investigates how they became leading narratives in the country's collective identity. Three critical moments in American history shaped and continue to drive the myth of a Christian America: the Puritan founding of New England, the American Revolution and the forging of a new nation, and the early years of the nineteenth century, when a second generation of Americans sought to redefine and reconcile the memory of the founding to match their religious and patriotic aspirations. Seeking to shed light not only on the veracity of these ideas but on the reasons they endure, Green ultimately shows that the notion of America's religious founding is a myth not merely in the colloquial sense, but also in a deeper sense, as a shared story that gives deeper meaning to our collective national identity.

Offering a fresh look at one of the most common and contested claims in American history, Inventing a Christian America is an enlightening read for anyone interested in the story of-and the debate over-America's founding.

(retrieved from Amazon Tue, 14 Apr 2015 01:16:29 -0400)

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