First Freedom First: A Citizen's Guide to Protecting Religious Liberty and the Separation of Church and State

First Freedom First: A Citizen's Guide to Protecting Religious Liberty and the Separation of Church and State

First Freedom First: A Citizen's Guide to Protecting Religious Liberty and the Separation of Church and State

First Freedom First: A Citizen's Guide to Protecting Religious Liberty and the Separation of Church and State

Synopsis

The United States is the most religiously diverse nation in the world, due in large part to the clauses of the First Amendment that guarantee freedom for and from religion. But as we debate displaying Christmas trees at city hall and the Ten Commandments in the courthouse, we must ask: in what other ways is our religious liberty being compromised.

In First Freedom First, with clear language and recognizable examples, two of the most trusted voices on church-state separation address head-on the many areas where religion and politics overlap, with consequences for all Americans. This book is for anyone concerned about such issues as:

• Churches hosting politicians and insisting they give testaments of their faith

• Science teachers questioning the theory of evolution in their public school classrooms

• Public religious debates on private issues involving end-of-life decisions and reproductive choices

• Federal funding for religious organizations, including those that discriminate openly

With religion a constant presence in political discussions, First Freedom First offers practical and easy ways to remind our leaders and our community of the importance of keeping religion and politics separate, for the sake of both institutions.

Excerpt

Religious freedom is in big trouble in the United States. That means democracy is in trouble, religion is in trouble, and, given the foundational importance of religious freedom—our first freedom—for all other freedoms, our whole way of life is in trouble.

The crisis fed by diminishing interest in and support for religious freedom will worsen exponentially if it is not addressed responsibly, effectively, broadly, and quickly. Such is the disturbing context in which this book has been written. Such is the stark reality that serves as the backdrop against which this book should be read.

THE CRISIS RELATED TO RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

The United States is now the most religiously pluralistic nation in the world. For that reason alone, religious freedom is more important than ever. Currently, however, a majority of the American people, including many media pundits, church leaders, and government officials, are functioning with a false assumption—that the United States has an established religion, that America is a Christian nation. Subsequently, often no more than a condescending nod is given to any other religious tradition. Virtually no attention at all, much less public acknowledgment, is devoted to people who choose not to embrace any religion. The historic constitutional principles that have provided our nation with a formula for unity amid diversity, and cooperation despite division, are now the sub-

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