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Ch. 1: Historical Background 
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Post Ch. 1: Historical Background
Chapter 1: Historical Background


Please use this thread for discussing Chapter 1: Historical Background, of Religious Expression and the American Constitution. You are also welcome to create your own threads if you prefer a more relaxed discussion structure.

Edited by: Chris OConnor  at: 4/12/07 11:23 am



Sat Apr 07, 2007 11:15 am
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - a discussion
If anyone knows the names of the chapters post them here please. My book should arrive in a few days, but right now I'm clueless.




Sun Apr 08, 2007 2:24 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - a discussion
Oops, Chris. I hadn't noticed the above until I came in here to post something. I had put the chapter titles in a different thread. But since you explicitly asked that we post them here, and in case you didn't see them in the other thread:

Chapter 1: Historical Background
Chapter 2: Understanding the First Amendment
Chapter 3: Religious Expression in Public Places
Chapter 4: Religious Expression in Public Schools
Chapter 5: Public Funding of Religious Schools
Chapter 6: Historical Issues of Religious Expression Versus Competing Social Interests
Chapter 7: Current Issues of Religious Expression Versus Competing Social Interests
Chapter 8: Religious Expression and Political Life

So sorry.




Wed Apr 11, 2007 4:47 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - a discussion
The history in this first chapter is very brief and, I think, will merely be a refresher, if that, for most of the people on here. Of note though, it is interesting to see the gradual progression of religion being strictly established in some of the early colonies to a little more accepting, inclusive "multiple establishment" approach, and finally in 1833 to the disestablishment of any religion, "sole or multiple," in all states (6).

Also interesting to note in this chapter are Haiman's points regarding a "Christian America." He states that although America was colonized by Christians, and some colonies established Christian religions, this argument does not extend to the United States. Constitutional scholars often note the states that signed and ratified the Constitution of the United States were very different from the colonies that joined in the Articles of Confederation. Just as the majority views in Congress on state sovereignty had changed, so had their views on government-established religion



Wed Apr 11, 2007 4:52 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - a discussion
Thanks Rose. I got them from the other thread before even noticing them here.::80




Thu Apr 12, 2007 10:36 am
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - a discussion
Irishrosem: Haiman indirectly extends this colony/state; America/U.S. distinction to the often used argument that the U.S. began as a Christian nation. Haiman asserts that though America may have begun as a Christian nation, the United States of America is a whole other story. It's an interesting position that I had not encountered before.

It's also arguable whether it's accurate to refer to the American colonies, prior to the American Revolution, as any sort of nation. Each of the colonies began with a distinct character, religious distinctions being part of the whole. Americans tend to make the jump from the arrival of the first colonists to the Revolution as if there weren't an intervening period in between. It was a substantial period of time and quite a few changes occurred during it.

It's also worth noting that the modern perception of wholesale church attendance and devotion during the colonial period may be wrong as well. One of the best and most thoroughly documented studies of the history or religion in the United States is The Churching of America, 1776-1990: Winners and Losers in Our Religious Economy by Roger Finke and Rodney Starke. The authors estimate that about 17 percent of the colonial population were members of Christian denominations at the time of the American Revolution. They also opine that the colonials of the day were more likely to be found in the village tavern on Saturday night than attending a church service on Sunday morning.

To be fair, it's likely that a frontier society was not so concerned about keeping membership talleys and the like, so the 17 percent may be understated somewhat. However, many members of the clergy and others had a great deal to say about the lack of piety on the part of the people during that period. So the view being encouraged today by the Religious Right is probably wrong on many levels.

All that aside, Haiman's point is a good one to keep in mind. More than 150 years passed from the establishment of the first of the 13 original colonies to the drafting of the Constitution. Many attitudes changed during the intervening period.

George

"Godlessness is not about denying the existence of nonsensical beings. It is the starting point for living life without them."

Godless in America by George A. Ricker




Sat Apr 21, 2007 11:48 am
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Post Interesting stuff
While the broad outlines were familiar, there were plenty of details I hadn't seen before. For example, some colonies had established churches, while others didn't. And Massachusetts didn't abolish the establishment of religion until 1833!

As a nitpick, the early history was inaccurate, such as the claim that "It was not until Mohammed came upon the scene at the beginning of the seventh century that there was another target for Christian animosity." After all, there was plenty of animosity between early Christians and pagans. As another nitpick...

garicker: It's also arguable whether it's accurate to refer to the American colonies, prior to the American Revolution, as any sort of nation.

Prior to the American Revolution, the American colonies were part of the English nation. You could argue that the colonies didn't become a nation until the Constitution was ratified.




Mon May 28, 2007 9:38 pm
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Post Re: Interesting stuff
Julian, I'm so glad you're joining us. Welcome aboard!

JtA: And Massachusetts didn't abolish the establishment of religion until 1833!

I love to be around when Americans first learn this.

JtA: As a nitpick, the early history was inaccurate...

I have no idea why Haiman included such a broad and relatively useless religious history (I hesitate to even use the word history) in this book. I don't have distinct memories of buying this book, but I must have skipped the first chapter when first perusing the book, or I'm sure I wouldn't have kept reading.

JtA: You could argue that the colonies didn't become a nation until the Constitution was ratified.

The Constitution was the only document (and the first actual attempt) to unite the colonies (states) into one nation. I don't think either Haiman or garicker were arguing otherwise.




Tue May 29, 2007 12:04 pm
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