Inventing a Christian America: The Myth of the Religious Founding

Hardcover | June 23, 2015

bySteven K. Green

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Among the most enduring themes in American history is the idea that the United States was founded as a Christian nation. A pervasive narrative in everything from school textbooks to political commentary, it is central to the way in which many Americans perceive the historical legacy of theirnation. Yet, as Steven K. Green shows in this illuminating new book, it is little more than a myth. In Inventing a Christian America, Green, a leading historian of religion and politics, explores the historical record that is purported to support the popular belief in America's religious founding and status as a Christian nation. He demonstrates that, like all myths, these claims are based onhistorical "facts" that have been colored by the interpretive narratives that have been imposed upon them. In tracing the evolution of these claims and the evidence levied in support of them from the founding of the New England colonies, through the American Revolution, and to the present day, heinvestigates how they became leading narratives in the country's collective identity. Three critical moments in American history shaped and continue to drive the myth of a Christian America: the Puritan founding of New England, the American Revolution and the forging of a new nation, and the early years of the nineteenth century, when a second generation of Americans sought toredefine and reconcile the memory of the founding to match their religious and patriotic aspirations. Seeking to shed light not only on the veracity of these ideas but on the reasons they endure, Green ultimately shows that the notion of America's religious founding is a myth not merely in thecolloquial sense, but also in a deeper sense, as a shared story that gives deeper meaning to our collective national identity. Offering a fresh look at one of the most common and contested claims in American history, Inventing a Christian America is an enlightening read for anyone interested in the story of - and the debate over - America's founding.

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Among the most enduring themes in American history is the idea that the United States was founded as a Christian nation. A pervasive narrative in everything from school textbooks to political commentary, it is central to the way in which many Americans perceive the historical legacy of theirnation. Yet, as Steven K. Green shows in this...

Steven K. Green is Fred H. Paulus Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Religion, Law, and Democracy at Willamette University. He is the author of The Bible, the School, and the Constitution: The Clash that Shaped Modern Church-State Doctrine and The Second Disestablishment: Church and State in Nineteenth-Century America.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:312 pages, 9.29 × 6.3 × 0.98 inPublished:June 23, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0190230975

ISBN - 13:9780190230975

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Table of Contents

PrefaceIntroduction: The Christian Nation Debate, Methodological Fallacies, and the Role of Myths1. A Haven for Religious Freedom2. A Model for Christian and Civil Government3. The Revolutionary and Constitutional Impulse4. A Government of Men5. The Birth of a MythConclusionIndex

Editorial Reviews

"Inventing a Christian America is the most thorough critique of Christian nationalism available today. Steven Green approaches this controversial subject with scholarly insight, a generally irenic spirit, and a comprehensive analysis of the literature produced by those who defend the ideathat the United States was founded as a Christian nation. Anyone interested in this subject must read this book." --John Fea, author of Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?: A Historical Introduction