Sacred Liberty

Sacred Liberty✩ Sacred Liberty pdf ❤ Author Steven Waldman – Sacred Liberty offers a dramatic sweeping survey of how America built a uniue model of religious freedom perhaps the nation’s “greatest invention” Steven Waldman the bestselling author of Foundi Sacred Liberty offers a dramatic sweeping survey of how America built a uniue model of religious freedom perhaps the nation’s “greatest invention” Steven Waldman the bestselling author of Founding Faith shows how early ideas about religious liberty were tested and refined amidst the brutal persecution of Catholics Baptists Mormons uakers African slaves Native Americans Muslims Jews and Jehovah’s Witnesses American leaders drove religious freedom forward—figures like James Madison George Washington the World War II presidents Roosevelt Truman and Eisenhower and even George W Bush But the biggest heroes were the regular Americans—people like Mary Dyer Marie Barnett and W D Mohammed—who risked their lives or reputations by demanding to practice their faiths freely Just as the documentary Eyes on the Prize captured the rich drama of the civil rights movement Sacred Liberty brings to life the remarkable story of how America became one of the few nations in world history that has religious freedom diversity and high levels of piety at the same time Finally Sacred Liberty provides a roadmap for how in the face of modern threats to religious freedom this great achievement can be preserved.

STEVEN WALDMAN is the national bestselling author of Founding Faith and the co founder of Beliefnet the award winning multifaith website He is now co founder and President of Report for America a national service program that places talented journalists into local newsrooms His writings have also appeared in The Wall Street Journal The New York Times Washington Post Newsweek National Revie.

Sacred Liberty PDF/EPUB ✓ Ebook
  • ebook
  • 416 pages
  • Sacred Liberty
  • Steven Waldman
  • English
  • 10 July 2014
  • 9780062743169

10 thoughts on “Sacred Liberty

  1. Robert D. Cornwall says:

    The United States prides itself on its protections of religious freedom We tell the story of how the Pilgrims came to these shores so they might have religious liberty Truth be told they were only interested in freedom for themselves The same was true of most of those who made their way to the shores of North America At the time that the nation was founded most states had some form of an established church Most often that was either Anglican or Congregational There were a few states like Rhode Island and Pennsylvania that offered religious freedom but they were the exception Even after the Constitution was ratified some states kept their establishment and until the 14th Amendment the First Amendment protections were not applied to the states only the federal government Down through time religious freedom has been a contested issue Many assumed that it applied only to Christians and by Christian that meant ProtestantSteven Waldman's book Sacred Liberty tells the story of how this nation dealt with religious freedom There is a belief that the United States has always been a beacon of religious freedom but such is not the case From the very earliest colonists those in the majority set the rules for others In New England it was the Congregationalists who dominated In the South it tended to be Anglicans Only a few colonies offered some form of freedom These stories including the stories of the persecution of Catholics and especially uakers is told as a precursor to independence and the establishment of a constitutional republic that at least at the federal level precluded religious tests for office and promised religious freedom including free exercise It is with chapter two and the exploration of Madison's Model as expressed in the First Amendment that we get started with the conversation Madison established the model but as we see in chapter three it is the eruption of the Second Great Awakening that undermined the state establishments While this was true freedom remained the province of Protestants The first big uestion facing the nation was whether Catholics could be granted religious freedom When the nation was founded Catholics formed a distinct minority of the population but as time went on and immigration especially from Ireland and later from southern Europe this became an urgent concern It wasn't really resolved until the 1960s But it wasn't just Catholics that faced suppression There was a distinct effort to suppress the religious freedom of African slaves some of whom were Muslim Both African spiritualities and Islam were suppressed and Christianity only reluctantly shared In chapter six Waldman notes that the religious freedoms promised by the First Amendment were first applied generally to the states only after the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment This amendment and its application resulted from the efforts of John Bingham While we think of the Fourteenth Amendment in terms of ending slavery nationwide religion was a significant beneficiary What is important to note is that Bingham believed that this amendment was part of his understanding of a Divine Plan p 90The battle for liberty was not yet won The nation faced the challenge of Mormonism and its practice of polygamy Mormons defended it based on the free exercise of their religious faith The courts disagreed and eventually polygamy was set aside but the battle raised important uestions about the limits of one's free exercise Then there was the government effort to ban Native American spiritual practices including the dances that defined their spirituality Instead the government sought to impose Christianity on them so as to kill the Indian within them Again not one of our better momentsWe hear that God has been run out of the schools because of the ban on prayer and Bible reading in the schools What partisans of this effort seem not to understand is that government sponsored prayer was largely an effort to keep Protestantism in a dominant position In the early 20th century the KKK emerged as a foe to Catholic immigration Catholic school systems were developed because of debates over which Bible translation could be used in school Much of this was rooted in anti immigration efforts largely directed at Italians Again not one of our better moments but one that is largely forgottenWhat about the Jehovah's Witnesses and their freedom to practice their faith Their unwillingness to salute the flag believing it to be idol worship led to children being suspended from school adults arrested and sometimes beaten nearly to death But they persisted in the courts and some of our freedoms we have today result from their efforts to confront attempts to institute coercive laws against religious communities World War II saw the elevation of religious freedom and the inclusion of Jews at the table This is the era in which we began to talk about the Judeo Christian world As this was going on the Supreme Court began to rule on religious issues helping to sort out what establishment and free exercise means This chapter chapter 12 is an important one Melissa Rogers' book Faith in American Public Life goes into much greater detail on these matters but this is an excellent starting point Even as the courts began to settle matters and Protestants Catholics and Jews began to solidify their relationships Congress passed important immigration reforms that allowed millions of Muslims Buddhists and Hindus to come to the United States which opened up the nation to much greater religious diversity While this was happening conservative Protestants and Catholics began to work together on issues like abortion as they left aside old animosities Moving closer to home evangelicals perhaps feeling the impact of changing demographics moved from claiming to be the moral majority to being a persecuted minority That as we are seeing has produced political implicationsSince 9 11 greater focus has been placed on Islam and its presence in our nation so Waldman devotes two chapters to the place of Islam in the country Interestingly 70% of Muslims voted for George W Bush in 2000 but in 2016 Donald Trump won as a Republican on a platform that included the suppression of Islam in America These chapters explore how Islam has navigated these challenges and what it means for the religious freedom of all Is it only for Christians or does it apply across the board? As Waldman notes one effort underway is to delegitimize Islam as a religion defining it as a political ideology and thus not subject to First Amendment protections Waldman closes the book with a summation of the journey the nation has been on regarding religious freedom He points out areas where progress has been made and areas where it is deficient In other words this is a contested space The Constitution may offer protections but how these protections are applied merits great concernThere are places where I might uibble especially his reference to David Barton as an influential evangelical historian Barton is not a historian he's a propagandist Otherwise I was very happy with the presentation I believe it merits close attention as we try to live out the freedoms imagined by James Madison where religion flourishes because it is set free from government interference Waldman is a journalist but he has a good eye for history This is worth spending much time with especially as we debate religious freedom at this time What will be the future of religious liberty at home? Take a read a very close read

  2. Bob says:

    Summary Rather than a given of American religious history religious liberty has often been honored in the breach and fought for by religious minorities excluded from this libertyOne of the mythologies of American history was the commitment from the beginnings of the American experiment to religious liberty beginning with the earliest Pilgrim and Puritan settlers The reality was actually uite different Stephen Waldman traces the struggle for religious liberty beginning with the case of Mary Dyer branded a Puritan heretic for participating in Anne Hutchinson's Bible studies and eventually becoming a uaker On June 1 1660 she was hung on the Boston Common for her faith In AmericaAs the colonies developed a religious patchwork also developed with particular bodies sanctioned by the state and others struggling for existence often restricted by while funding the state supported churches Anglicans in one colony Congregationalists in another The Baptists seemed to have to fight for their rights everywhere These religious divisions were submerged during the Revolution with even Catholics receiving a measure of toleration Real steps forward were taken with the advocacy of Thomas Jefferson after his correspondence with the Danbury Baptists and the genius insight of Madison that the best way to foster religious vitality was to take government out of the business of establishing religion or in any way prohibiting its free exercise Enshrined in the First Amendment it was a first major step toward religious freedom at the federal level No one had yet applied this to individual states The states would follow later unleashing a fervor of religious activity confirming Madison's wisdom But this at first only applied to Protestants The arriving Catholic immigrants faced prejudice at different periods including at one point opposition from the Klan who expanded their white exclusivism to 100 percent Americans excluding Catholics from eastern and southern Europe Likewise the tribal religions of slaves were exterminated for a Christianity that liberated the soul but held the body captive Mormons would pose another challenge with their strange beliefs and polygamy They would be murdered and driven out of state after state until finding refuge in Utah Eventually their liberties were recognized with the concession to monogamous marriage  Native peoples also had their own religions but as they were subjugated they were forced into residential schools The aim was to Kill the Indian Christianize the Man Only in 1978 did Congress pass legislation protecting their religious rights Then it was the Jehovah's Witnesses and their refusal to salute the American flag which led to the application of First Amendment freedoms at the state and local level In recent years following World War 2 Waldman traces the Judeo Christian alliance in public life He traces the increasing presence of the Supreme Court in religious liberty cases the influx of people representing the other major world religions Islam Hinduism and Buddhism and modern developments that have led to Evangelical and Catholic alliances attacks on Islam the conversion of a religious majority into a persecuted religious minority whose religious liberty needs protectionOne uestion Waldman leaves us with is how religious liberty extends to practices that may have impact on the public good for example the case of polygamy or medical treatment when a child's life is at risk Must pharmacists dispense medications that violate their conscience or bakers or photographers accept clients whose views of marriage they disagree with? In these latter cases Waldman seems to encourage common sense accommodations rather than laws or court rulings Of course this assumes a pluralistic marketplace a condition that does not exist in all communities One uestion Waldman did not address other than in school prayer discussions is the protection of the belief and liberty those who believe there is no God Atheists have also been subject to persecution and discrimination and a chapter addressing the protection of their freedom of conscience something not explicitly included in the First Amendment unless one defines atheism as a religion would have been worth discussingA recurring theme is that religious liberty often has been the preserve of the religion in power and minorities had to fight for the extension of those rights to them Waldman demonstrates the genius of Madison and the First Amendment in fostering a vibrant religious landscape Part of the key was that he realized that political power would sooner or later have a corrupting influence on the religion The best test of a religion's veracity was its ability to convince prospective followers without compulsion The best way to protect a nation from religious conflict was to determinedly protect the freedom of conscience for allThis is an important book that underscores the wisdom of applying the First Amendment consistently To protect the religious freedom of any of us is to protect that of all of us The real test of religious freedom is will we defend the liberties of those with whom we disagree or even consider heretical by our own standards? Sadly our story is too often one of attacking rather than defending the rights of those with whom we differ For all that Madison's wisdom has proven itself over time Will we reflect upon that and continue to preserve this distinctive first freedom?

  3. Pearl says:

    For uite awhile many Americans mistakenly believed that religious liberty meant having the ability not only to practice their own faith but also to impose it on othersWaldman’s account of how religious liberty developed in America is lucid interesting and informative As in every history there are heroes and villains There are those who would deprive those in faiths other than their own of the right to worship in their own way and there are those who perhaps inadvertently would advance religious liberty for all by fighting for their own The two big heroes in this cause are James Madison author of the First Amendment and John Bingham author of the Fourteenth Amendment The Madison crafted amendment mandated freedom from religious discrimination under federal laws and the Bingham crafted amendment some 77 years later extended that protection from religious discrimination to state and local governments as well Almost all religious faiths in America have had their turn at being on the outside America in fact began with an outsider group the Puritans To gain the right to worship in their own way according to their own conscience and beliefs they escaped religious oppression and came to America One would think that they would understand the importance of religious freedom but not so They were notorious in suppressing and persecuting anyone who practiced a faith other than their own It was their intolerance toward Baptists that led Madison an Episcopalian to write the Establishment Clause Waldman does a very good job in showing that religious freedom in America has usually meant freedom for me to practice my religion Episcopalians and Congregationalists were the two main forms of religious practice accepted in colonial America Baptists and Catholics and Jews were barred from holding office in the majority of the 13 colonies Later in the country’s history there were calls for the extermination of Mormons huge atrocities committed against Jehovah’s Witnesses several anti Catholic waves and Each of these groups fought back and eventually won not only their right to religious liberty but also the extension of religious liberty to others Just what Madison wanted a free market for religion one religion not being favored over anotherWaldman’s discussion of how the Founders viewed religion was helpful especially the differences between Madison’s and Jefferson’s views It was not easy for Madison to forge a compromise among the competing views of what “the free exercise of thereof” meant how that would affect their new nation and what would happen to their churches without state support; but he was able to do so by fusing the evangelical desire for an unobstructed individual path to God with the Enlightenment demand for freedom of thought Although Madison did not live to see it the Second Great Awakening seemed to prove that Madison was right the separation of church and state worked A religion propped up by the state was neither necessary nor desirable; religious fervor flourished when left on its own As Waldman’s subtitle announces the “free exercise” clause has engendered long and bloody battles including the battles to deny African slaves’ their beliefs and Native Americans’ their beliefs and to coerce them to accept Christianity He points out that 10% of slaves were Muslim making them a larger population in colonial America than those who practiced Judaism and Catholicism I was also interested to learn that originally the KKK was driven as much by anti Catholic animus as it was by racism And to discover that the much vaunted concept of our Judeo Christian heritage in America is a term that only came into use after the HolocaustThere are so many things that can be learned in this enlightening book We have moved from defining religious freedom as an absence of persecution to a collective commitment to a special sensitivity to the religious beliefs and practices of others What does “the free exercise thereof” really mean? How does it apply to whether and where a Muslim woman can wear a hijab? Whether a baker whose religious tenets reject homosexuality can refuse to bake a cake for a gay wedding? And many present day issues The influx of non Christian immigrants and the extension of civil rights protections to groups once again force the majority to adjust how they think about religious liberty Steven Waldman’s book is a good guide to help us consider these issues

  4. Michael DeBusk says:

    Though not perfect—as an evangelical there were plenty of things to uibble with from Waldman's monolithic treatment of the Puritans to his contention that evangelicals are undergoing a Mormon moment on the issue of same sex marriage—Sacred Liberty is essential civics reading for modern Americans Waldman's central thesis is that the religious liberty Americans today enjoy represents a highly nuanced synthesis hard won over centuries of trials and experimentation Conseuently Americans should treasure this synthesis and defend it fiercely Along the way Waldman sheds light on various historical episodes that served as markers in the march toward religious liberty I learned things in nearly every chapter

  5. Tom says:

    Excellent book about a topic we know too little about the history of religious liberty especially in the US You'd be amazed at what it's taken to get us to this point Even with religious freedom under attack on many fronts in the current political climate this book points out the uniueness of the US when it come to this topic

  6. MG says:

    A wonderful and often surprising history of America’s principles of religious liberty As it turns out the combination of separation of church and state as well as the freedom to express faith especially the protection of religious minorities is uniue in developed countries and unusually successful compared to them What is even surprising is that the current form of these principles has taken most of our history to solidify I think the author makes a strong case for religious liberty being “America’s greatest invention”

  7. William Schram says:

    The United States supposedly has freedom of religion This is built directly into the Constitution Now I say supposedly due to the fact that there has usually been friction between different faiths This is due to the interests of a majority group that takes over and dominates the scene This is an unusual situation Usually a country had an established State sponsored religion that was supported with tax dollars The United States led by James Madison decided to do away with that idea Rather than a state sponsored religion that has political power Madison thought it would be better to have a free market situation where people could choose what religion to beThroughout the history of the United States we have had several religions that it was popular to hate From the Puritans despising the uakers and Baptists to the modern era of people hating Islam and the Muslim peoples Steven Waldman approaches the situations with sympathy and understanding Pretty much every religion out there was threatened at one time or another either in reality or in their constituents imaginationsSo Waldman explains that rather than everyone automatically accepting everyone else the United States has had a series of pariah religions As I mentioned it began with the Baptists and uakers Then they had enough followers to not be a minority any The Catholics were also considered to be some kind of devilish agent of Satan I remember hearing about this when I was in school Back when John F Kennedy was running for president he had a huge demerit due to the fact that he was Roman Catholic For some reason people imagined that he would be a puppet of the Pope and that Rome would be pulling the strings This is a ridiculous ideaIn our modern era we mostly rally against and satirize and demonize the Muslim people This is due to the terrorist attacks of September 11 and the other attacks in other countries The unusual thing about this is that the American people conflate American Muslims with Muslims of other countries It is true that they follow the pillars of Islam but that is where the similarities end Also with hatred being fueled by imagination we have people thinking that the Muslims are all misogynist even in America This is an unfair assessment and Waldman goes into this in depthThis book was excellent Initially I had my doubts but they were uickly banished by Waldman’s writing It also touches close to home since I consider myself an atheist and where else could I exist safely without the protections granted to me by the Constitution? So while I think the idea of God is a bit silly I can’t exactly go and dissuade people from their belief In the same vein I could attempt to run for political office but I don’t see myself winning considering my beliefs or lack thereof

  8. Mich says:

    Steven Waldman in Sacred Liberty does a wonderful job as he traces the evolution of religious freedom in America or aptly the overthrow of religious intolerance since that was the real struggle The earliest colonies seem to be founded by one of the Christian branches whether it was uakers Puritans Anglicans Baptists etc and these states showed no tolerance for any of the other sectsIt was Madison who struggled to add to the Bill of Rights the inability of the Federal government to impose on or establish religions but it was only in 1865 when Jonathan Bingham shepherded the 14th amendment that this restriction was placed on states and local government Yet local governments still practiced religious favoritism until the Supreme Court in the mid 20th century finally killed that practice The struggle between allowing freedom of religious practice and freedom of expression as it conflicts with secular law is well parsedThe discriminatory history rolls its way through the Romish Catholics then through the suppression of religious liberty of African Slaves the Mormons the Christianizing of the Native Americans the KKK the Jehovah Witnesses the Jews until we finally hit the MuslimsIt is here that the reader finally feels that Waldman has arrived at his central point As just published in 2019 he has a lot to say about Trump and his railing against Muslims as well as his castigating of Trump’s supporters with their prejudice against all Muslims He describes three small and one big threat against religious liberty The first of the three small ones is that secularism will become so prevalent that religious people will become disadvantaged It is the diversity of religion and its acceptance that is one of our great strengths The second small threat is from exaggerating the first Touting too much religious liberty will create too many conflicts both among religious sects as with the atheistsThe third threat is that secular laws should not force religious people to take actions contrary to their beliefs These are somewhat minor and he believes they can be overcomeThe major threat is the branding of all Muslims as terrorists and labeling their religion as not a religion but a political movement intent on killing those not part of the movement and thus not protected by the Bill of Rights

  9. Kim Stiegel says:

    35 ish stars One of my biggest pet peeves in history books is when the author editorializes or proselytizes too much and that was probably my main issue with this book I can't decide if the author already had this book in the works during the 2016 presidential election and the last few chapters just happened to be influenced by that; or if he came up with the whole book concept because of the election and used this book as a thinly disguised political editorial In any case if this book had been written in say 2014 I think it would have been better The book started out fairly well and other than being dry in a few spots was very educational and interesting I learned a heck of a lot particularly about what the Catholics went through how their faith and roles as Americans evolved and how the evangelical movement developed and changed over the decades The first 78 or so of this book were pretty good and mostly free from editorializing The author treated all religions and most historical figures eually fairly and without judgment However the next to last chapter or thereabouts devolved into political bashing and borderline whining about Trump and the conservative media that while they very well might be legitimate complaints don't have much place in a primarily history book and are far too editorialized I didn't pick this book up to read a harangue about the modern political landscape; there are plenty of other books out there taking care of that topic There's a line between reporting and editorializing and that chapter gets too heavy on the latter The author makes a lot of interesting points in the very last chapter which partly makes up for the bashing just endured in the prior chapter; it is mostly worth reading finishing the book just to absorb the last chapter and its message

  10. Brianne Roth says:

    This book covered similar ground as Fantasyland so I knew a good bit about the topic already I think this may have made it a little repetitive for me That said I still really enjoyed it It contained a lot of great information and if you are unfamiliar with the history of religion in the US I would absolutely recommend The book's focus is on religious persecution and freedom so the scope is a little narrow than Fantasyland There were chapters on Mormons Native Americans enslaved Africans Jews Catholics and Jehovah's Witnesses The later chapters deal with the current issues with Muslim Americans The author draws a lot of parallels with previous religious bigotry in the US I found this really compelling and will be interested to see how this plays out in the future

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