Beyond Belief, Beyond Conscience: The Radical Significance of the Free Exercise of Religion

Beyond Belief, Beyond Conscience: The Radical Significance of the Free Exercise of Religion

by Jack Rakove

Hardcover

$22.95
View All Available Formats & Editions
Members save with free shipping everyday! 
See details

Overview

Today, Americans believe that the early colonists came to the New World in search of religious liberty. What we often forget is that they wanted religious liberty for themselves, not for those who held other views that they rejected and detested. Yet, by the mid-18th century, the colonists agreed that everyone possessed a sovereign right of conscience. How did this change develop? In Beyond Belief, Beyond Conscience, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jack Rakove tracks the unique course of religious freedom in America.

He finds that, as denominations and sects multiplied, Americans became much more tolerant of the free expression of rival religious beliefs. During the Revolutionary era, he explains, most of the new states moved to disestablish churches and to give constitutional recognition to rights of conscience. These two developments explain why religious freedom originally represented the most radical right of all. No other right placed greater importance on the moral autonomy of individuals, or better illustrated how the authority of government could be limited by denying the state authority to act. Together, these developments made possible the great revival of religion in 19th-century America.

As Rakove explains, America's intense religiosity eventually created a new set of problems for mapping the relationship between church and state. He goes on to examine some of our contemporary controversies over church and state not from the vantage point of legal doctrine, but of the deeper history that gave the U.S. its own approach to religious freedom. In this book, he tells the story of how American ideas of religious toleration and free exercise evolved over time, and why questions of church and state still vex us.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780195305814
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 08/03/2020
Series: Inalienable Rights
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 258,945
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author



Jack N. Rakove is William Robertson Coe Professor of History and American Studies Emeritus at Stanford University. He is the author of six books, including Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution, which won the Pulitzer Prize, and Revolutionaries: A New History of the Invention of America, finalist for the George Washington Book Prize.

Table of Contents



Editor's Note
Preface
Introduction: The View from Monticello and Montpelier
Chapter 1: The Burden of Toleration
Chapter 2: The Liberty of Conscience and Conversion
Chapter 3: The Revolutionary Legacy: Jefferson's and Madison's Great Project
Chapter 4: The Democratization of Religious Freedom
Chapter 5: An Era of Doctrines

Customer Reviews