One Nation, but So Many Different Ideas about God under the Same God ; How to Separate State from Church in the US Today

By Carol des Lauriers Cieri | The Christian Science Monitor, July 26, 2005 | Go to article overview

One Nation, but So Many Different Ideas about God under the Same God ; How to Separate State from Church in the US Today


Carol des Lauriers Cieri, The Christian Science Monitor


In August 2004, even as insurgency was stirring in Iraq, a rebellion of a different variety was erupting in Montgomery, Ala.

The previous winter, Judge Roy Moore, chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, had moved a 2-1/2-ton block of granite to the rotunda of the Montgomery courthouse and had it inscribed with the Ten Commandments. When ordered by federal courts to remove the monument, the judge refused. TV cameras turned up and public controversy raged.

It's a debate that rages on, despite recent US Supreme Court rulings that religious displays in public places are illegal unless their motive is clearly secular.

Noah Feldman uses the scene at the Montgomery courthouse to set the stage for his new book, "Divided by God: America's Church-State Problem and What We Should Do About It."

Despite the title, this New York University law professor takes great care to note that Americans are not divided by God, or even by religious beliefs and affiliations. It is rather, he says, the relationship between religion and government that confounds them at every turn. It is an evolving equation with significant consequences.

"The stakes of that debate," he writes, "extend beyond statutes to billions of dollars in government funding: basic moral questions of life, death, and family; and the recurrent challenge of what it means for Americans to belong to a nation."

To help resolve the controversy, Feldman asks readers to rethink the relationship between church and state in the US.

But first he walks them through American history, making it clear what a great and novel experiment was launched in the United States: The country's founders crafted the constitutional principle of separation not because religion wasn't important, but because it was so very important.

"Divided by God" is an extraordinary book, carefully researched and well-written, with a cogent, if narrowly drawn, conclusion. It is a window on a mind - and a nation - at important work, and it is impressive.

Feldman brings strong credentials to his topic. He grew up in an Orthodox Jewish home in Cambridge, Mass., and he attended an Orthodox Jewish school. That helped frame his perspective.

"I always felt lucky because I had a foot in both camps. I had a foot in religion ... and a foot in Northeastern secular liberalism," he told Publishers Weekly, "I always believed there was more in common among these world views than either was prepared or able to recognize."

Feldman graduated from Harvard, earned a doctorate in Islamic thought as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, and earned a law degree from Yale, after which he clerked at the US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, DC, and the US Supreme Court.

He began teaching law at New York University two weeks before 9/ 11, when his fairly obscure doctorate and fluency in Arabic made him a hot commodity. His previous book, "After Jihad: America and the Struggle for Islamic Democracy," was considered brilliant by many, and in 2003, he was asked to advise the Iraqis on their constitution.

Clearly, Feldman knows his way around divisive church/state issues here and abroad, but it is his search for commonality that distinguishes this book. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

One Nation, but So Many Different Ideas about God under the Same God ; How to Separate State from Church in the US Today
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.